Following the U.S. imposing new strict economic sanctions on Iran that went into effect on Tuesday, a series of massive protests in Iran have erupted.
Although Iran has been in a state of political unrest for months, the announcement this week has added fuel to the protests.
“We see a significant uptick in protests. There was the first wave in December and January, and then another peak over the last few weeks related to the nosedive that the currency has taken over the past month or so,” said Naysan Rafati, an Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group to Foreign Policy.
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets this week to express their disappointment in the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Amid chants of “death to the dictator” and similar slogans directed at the regime, protesters in a number of cities have been demonstrating every night for the past week, with Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Karaj, and even the holy Shi’ite city of Qom among those affected, according to Radio Farda and other reports, and video clips posted on social media,” writes CNS News.
The protests have gotten violent too. A young man named Reza Otadi was shot dead during the protests in Karaj, a city close to Tehran. According to a Fars news agency, the man was killed by someone firing a gun from a car passing by, but other news agencies are reporting he was killed by rioters.
Since tens of thousands have joined protests, the hundreds of Iran security forces are having trouble containing them. Police have attempted to control the riots by throwing grenades and tear gas at protesters.
“What started out as economic protests have transformed into a broad, social and political challenge to the regime,” said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies to Foreign Policy. “You’re hearing, ‘Death to Khamenei,’ ‘Death to Rouhani,’ ‘Death to the regime.’ We haven’t seen this kind of direct challenge to the regime since 1979 and the Islamic Revolution.”
Trump signed an executive order Monday that imposed new economic sanctions on Iran. The White House also said that there will be more sanctions imposed on the oil and banking industry come November.
“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” tweeted Trump. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”
Rouhani condemned the U.S. for the sanctions and called Trump untrustworthy.
Other officials have criticized the sanctions too.
“We are facing an economic war and the U.S. government is restoring sanctions and also trying to increase them,” said Abdolnasser Hemmati, the new governor of the Central Bank of Iran to the Associated Press on Sunday. “But our government is powerful…and is capable of opening up the foreign currency market on the same day.”
Author’s note: Will this unrest be enough to make Iran come to the negotiating table with the U.S.? The more of an impact the sanctions make on Iranian, the angrier they will become with the government.