With high unemployment, inflation, and an economy constrained by economic sanctions the average Iranian has found their wealth reduced by 10% in the last decade.
While their wealth dissipated they also were witness to their fundamental rights being systematically removed by the ruling elite under the promises of peace, Islam, and a better life.
They saw their right to free and fair elections removed in 2009, and their leaders arrested.
Even once Rouhani a self-proclaimed reformer was elected the Iranian people saw no real change.
Instead, they were met with a series of mammoth corruption schemes which showed billions being illegally squandered and a political environment in which Rouhani, in reality, had no power.
That is perhaps the largest indicator to as why the people of Iran are increasingly becoming more militant in their opposition to the ruling Islamic regime. Historically the Iranian population has been constrained by a platitude of carrots and sticks. The economy was growing fast, subsidies to the poor were high, and those that spoke against the regime where quickly arrested and silenced.
The existence of a growing economy in many ways provided the government a bargaining chip, wherein individuals were far too fearful to act, as they would likely lose all that they had slowly built over the years. Today’s jobless youth in many ways have nothing to lose and feel that their economic future cannot exist under the Islamic regime.
That is perhaps why we are seeing now a militant population who is actively fighting back.
Most recently a report on sky news found that at least 12 protesters are said to have been killed – 10 of them overnight Sunday. While these deaths are a large scale spike, they also show the willingness of the Iranian people to die for their freedom.
In fact, some Iranians have become violently militant in response to regime attempts to quash the protests. For example, state media reported Monday that a man “creating a disturbance” shot at police with a “hunting gun,” killing one officer and wounding three others.
These are not the only instances of anti-regime action as protestors also burned down a bank, a religious building, and more.
Breaking: Iranian protesters are burning down banks in Ahwaz as clashes between demonstrators and security forces continue to intensify pic.twitter.com/jmueOFXCIp
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) January 1, 2018
So Why Does This Matter?
We have seen instances of popular discontent in Iran before. We saw it in 2009, yet many are placing far more value on this specific instance.
This is due to the fact that at this moment these protests have no leadership, they have no real ideology, and in reality, they only show one thing.
The Iranian people are tired of their wealth being squandered into foreign wars which do nothing to enrich their actual quality of life. They are tired of a regime which makes it actively harder for them to take part in the growing global content, and in many ways want it replaced.
Will It Happen?
While many commentators have brought up the idea of peaceful transition from the current system, there does remain some serious obstacles. Iran unlike the regimes found in Libya, Egypt, and Syria has for years built a system designed to remove and limit unrest.
Iran limits the flow of communication by restricting internet access and maintaining a total monopoly on news and internet infrastructure.
Furthermore, the nation maintains a specially modified army and corporate structure designed to limit the power of non-religious actors. For example, the army itself is split into two separate wings. One the national army, and the other the Islamic Revolutionary Guard which acts as the powerful military enforcer of the cleric class.
The revolutionary guard receives 53% of the total defense budget, maintains ownership over some of Irans most important business, and has seen its members become far more wealthy in recent years.
This means that not only do the religious class of clerics have access to their own larger and specialized military fighting force but that they have also padded the pockets of those individuals to maintain a real sense of incentivized loyalty.
Given that the army is not powerful enough by itself, the only real possibility of a safe and non-violent transition can only occur if some of Irans religious community also begin to feel chafed under the current regime.
What is your opinion on this? Share it with us below!