- The protests in Iran appear to be dying down, as fewer protests were reported on Tuesday night.
- Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were deployed to three provinces on Wednesday.
- Iran adeptly seems to be judiciously quelling the unrest – but it will also weaken the regime on many fronts.
The protests in Iran appear to be dying down.
There were fewer reports of protests across the country and less of a police presence in Tehran on Tuesday night, according to the BBC.
On Wednesday, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were deployed to three provinces and a number of pro-government demonstrations were also held. The Guard’s leader, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, claimed the “sedition” was defeated.
Just because the situation in Iran has momentarily calmed down, experts say the protests could happen again and have already hurt the ruling regime.
“I think we’ve entered a pressure cooker phase in Iran” in which we’re likely “to see more and more agitators like this,” Indiana University Professor Hussein Banai told Business Insider.
The protests, which swept across Iran last Thursday and have since left at least 21 people dead, began over the high price of eggs – but they quickly morphed into an anti-government movement, targeting Iran President Hassan Rouhani.
Several factors may have doomed the movement from the start and these protests are not as large as the unrest seen in 2009,according to The Soufan Group.
While there appeared to be extensive communication through social media, the protests had no clear leader nor any clear set of grievances, Banai said.
“Iran is [also] judicious in how it stops protests,” Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Business Insider. Maloney highlight tactics such as surveillance, picking off leaders, or scaring and discouraging protesters from continuing.
Over the weekend, Iran blocked two smartphone apps, Instagram and Telegram, which protesters had used to coordinate plans and spread images of the demonstrations. Smartphones were a major factor in the current wave of protests spreading from city to city.
What happens now
“My guess is that the Islamic Republic will ride it out,” Maloney said, but the protests will take a “toll on the legitimacy of the government as a whole,” internally and externally.
They also “undercut [Rouhani’s] credibility as a guy who can fix the economy” and will further stymie his attempts to reform and grow the economy in the future, she said.
The unrest may embolden the US to tighten sanctions and even frighten away international investors, Maloney said. These actions could end up making countries like Saudi Arabia look more attractive.
“Internally, Rouhani’s election was meant to be one last attempt by westward-looking technocrats to basically right the ship,” Banai said. “These protests exposed them on not having delivered.”
In addition, more lower-class and rural Iranians have taken part in these protests, as opposed to the more affluent protesters in 2009, indicating that unrest is even more widespread now.
Protests in Iran have always been about the corrupt and arbitrary structure of governmental power, Banai said. The current protests, though, are the first time that economic grievances rose up alongside grievances about governmental power.
“Even if this dies down, in a few days’ time or six months’ time, the regime has a problem, in that this discontent will simmer until they either take dramatic steps themselves or are forced to take them,” Ali Ansari, director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland, told the LA Times.
“Tell me what my future is,” a 25-year-old Tehran resident told the Times. “I am a burden on my family. I’m not able to earn enough money. Tell me what else to do.”
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