Source: iJET International
New Study Identifies Causes of Nationwide Unrest in December 2017 and January 2018: A study by an independent human rights organization published May 1 identifies the root causes of the nationwide unrest that beset Iran in December 2017 and early January 2018. The study concentrates on major protest sites throughout the country, such as Tehran, Esfahan, and Mashhad, as well as the key factors that led to social instability in each province. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appears to have significantly declined in popularity in the country, which is surprising as his position has historically been deemed sacrosanct and immune from public criticism. The study determined that protesters find Khamenei to be the leader most responsible for Iran's pervasive corruption, unemployment, and the stagnant economy, as he is the most important decision-maker in the country.
Analysis: Iranians remain frustrated over a wide range of issues facing the country, including a sinking economy, the government's military adventures in several Arab countries, and oppressive policies and laws. At a time when Iranians demand social, political, and economic reforms, the government continues to crack down on people's freedom of assembly and organization. On April 30, the government banned the widely used and popular Telegram messaging application, which has been a critical platform for organizing anti-government protests. The December 2017 and January 2018 protests erupted in 87 cities throughout Iran; in 37 of those towns, clashes devolved into violence between police and protesters. The study highlights that violence was most intense in places where "the size of working-age population had increased in 2017." Despite government threats of imprisonment and ongoing crackdown, various groups continue to take to the streets and protest the government and its policies. US President Donald Trump is in the process of deciding on whether his administration will continue to stay in the Iran nuclear deal or cancel it. Should President Trump decide the latter, the possibility of widespread nationwide protests remains, as the cancellation of the deal will result in economic sanctions, which will cause a further deterioration in people's poor economic conditions.