by Gabby Lewis, news editor
During the first week of January 2018, riots broke out across the country as a result of an unstable economy, an increase in food prices, and a rise in corruption, but more importantly, they are demonstrations of the mass discontent all across the country against Iran’s rulers.
Such dissent hasn’t been seen since the 2009 Green Movement when many Iranians protested against the reelection of the president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Today’s riots started as a result of resentment and anger against President Hassan Rouhani and how he hasn’t been able to provide the nationwide prosperity they desire. Prices for necessities such as food and gasoline have been increasingly inflating, and in addition, the government is seen as incredibly corrupt, increasing inequality amongst the population.
However, the regime slowly turned its head towards Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who blames the mass unrest on Iran’s enemies. He states, “All those who are against the Islamic Republic… they have all joined forces in order to create problems for the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution.” However, Khamenei doesn’t list any specific countries, and there is no strong evidence to support his assertion. The UN’s US Ambassador Nikki Haley even claims that such assumptions are “complete nonsense.”
In response to the riots, President Trump has tweeted his support for the protesters in taking back their “corrupt government,” and he promised that Iran will “see great support from the United States at the appropriate time.” However, how this support will take shape hasn’t been specified. In addition, an Iranian reformist group, The Association of Combatant Clerics, has accused the US of encouraging violence as an enemy of Iran, and Trump has made previous comments regarding terrorism coming from the Middle East. Thus, his support may not be readily accepted with tensions against the US from the protesters he supports.
The riots ended soon after they began, but consequently, at least 21 died and 450 were arrested, and while the actual danger has subsided, the general feeling of discontentment with the Iranian government likely hasn’t dissipated.
The best solution is probably to step aside and let Iran’s government take control of the situation. For example, experts such as Iranian-American analyst Holly Dagres states that Trump’s support tweets hurt Iran more than helped them out. “The fact that we are actually making statements that we think are in favor of the Iranian people, they are hurting them more than anything.” Although world leaders may want to intervene, this is an internal issue for Iran to deal with that doesn’t need any other countries to get involved.
The citizens crave more social equality, economic stability, and a just government, so much so that they took to having demonstrations to show their dissent. Hopefully, the government will try to slowly move towards what the people want in order to be a happier and thus more prosperous country.