No “Spring” in Iran’s Unrests

APD news | 作者: Li Zixin | 时间: 2018-02-06 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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In the last few weeks of 2017, grave violent protests occurred in Iran, which are continuing to this day. The protests have become the biggest challenge to the Iranian government since mass demonstrations in 2009. Many of the protesters are young Iranians who are tired of the lack of economic opportunity in the country, but more violence in the demonstration is being demonstrated.

Why did the protests happen?

Due to prolonged international sanctions and unreasonable internal economic structure, along with the failed management system, there has always been serious risks of Iran’s economy. The price of daily necessities and food soars, and the income gap is getting wider and wider. Privileged groups gain more economic benefits by their unequal advantages, and corruption is commonplace within the system. All of these problems have plagued Iran's serious social unrest.

Actually, the protests in Iran have not happened only recently, but they have lasted for several months, which are mainly aimed at economic issues rather than others. Numbers of financial institutions had collapsed during the last months in the year of 2017, with numerous of ordinary Iranian people losing their savings. People have been protesting on that for the last few months, hoping the government doing something for their losses. However, the situation became more serious in the last week. There was a small group which was more radical that they protest against almost everything including the current social system and regime. Actually, the primary protestors have gone home as the situation has deviated from their original intentions.

The radical protests nowadays has become a kind of violence. They attack banks and police stations. What is worse, some of the radicals even use the anti-personnel weapon during the protest. The nature of the protests has been dramatically changed. Unfortunately, the social media has played a very negative role, making the protest more violent. Videos on how to make and use weapons are widely circulated on social media. At this point, a peaceful protest on the people's livelihood has evolved into a massive social unrest.

Sympathy rather than gloat

After the escalation of the violent demonstrations in Iran, many western media and governments are extremely excited, considering that the "Spring of Tehran" has arrived. Take the United States as an example, Vice President Michael R. Pence announced that ”we stand with the proud people of Iran because it is right”. What is puzzling is that we do not know who the vice-president said "proud people of Iran" refers to, the radicals or the primary protestors? What we have seen is, the U.S. government came out and clearly expressed its support for the anti-government group when the demonstration evolved to target to the entire Iranian regime and system.

We have noticed that, in the latest National Security Strategy, “the United States seeks a Middle East that is not a safe haven or breeding ground for Jihadist terrorists, not dominated by any power hostile to the United States, and that contributes to a stable global energy market”. Unfortunately, the regime of Iran is entirely the target of the new U.S. national security policy. From the US perspective, a country like Iran, which is “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” and hostile to the United States, will disrupt the global energy market when the sanctions have been lifted, is completely unacceptable. Thus, it is commonplace for the position of United States takes to the Iranian government.

However, such kind of the geopolitical wrestling should not be the main theme of the region. It should not be forgot that the so-called “Arab Spring”, which happened seven years ago, led to several wars, leaving so many people homeless and making the entire region become a haven or breeding ground of Jihadist terrorists. Everything had gone worse, and the democracy had not come to the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” resulted in an “Arab cold winter”. Now it turns to Iran. The international community should show sympathy and offer help to the ordinary Iranian people facing to the livelihood issue rather than expecting more serious social unrest. The stability is one of the most important foundations of safeguarding human rights and promoting the development of politics, economics and the entire society.




LI Zixin, Assistant Research Fellow, China Institute of International Studies.




Source: Asia Pacific Daily, January 6, 2018.