For the past several days, Iranians have demonstrated against a government that has not delivered on promised economic improvement and against a regime whose ruling clerical class they despise.
The public’s animosity against the existing order, as past protests indicate, is no surprise. Particular aspects of this latest series of demonstrations, however, invite a critical eye by Iran-watchers.
The current protests began, not as usual, in the Iran’s capital, Tehran. The protests began in Mashhad, center of the wealthiest and most powerful religious foundation in the country. At first, the crowds were demonstrating for the long-promised but undelivered economic benefits that were supposed to follow the roll-back of internationally-applied sanctions against Iran, after the Obama administration delivered more than $150 billion to the Islamic Republic.
By the second night of protests, the demonstrators became more hostile and began to focus on political complaints. As a consequence, the regime may have viewed the spreading demonstrations more ominously.