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'Internal Dissent' Grows in Iran as Economic Protests Threaten 'Downfall of Regime'

08-01-2018
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Iran Protest
Iran Protest

Protesters took to streets of central Iran for a second day chanting "death to the dictator" and "Khamenei, shame on you! Let go of your rule" as the people's anger against the regime's Islamic rulers intensifies.  

Meanwhile, the first sanctions imposed on Iran under President Donald Trump are due to go into effect next Monday. Another round of sanctions is scheduled to take effect Nov. 4, including sanctions on oil purchases – which are so critical to Iran's economy.

For weeks, the country's currency has been in a free fall, plummeting to historic lows against the dollar. This has put tremendous pressure on average citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.

"Iran at the moment is in difficult condition, especially economic condition," said Imad Salamey, a professor at Lebanese American University in Beirut.

Video posted to social media reportedly show thousands of protesters angry about soaring inflation and skyrocketing prices taking to the streets of Isfahan, a historic city in central Iran, chanting, "where is our money," "shame on you," and "death to high prices."  

"Its currency is collapsing quite rapidly. Internal dissent is growing," warned Salamey.

Nearly 40 years after the Islamic uprising, many in Iran and in the West say the regime's campaign to spread its revolutionary version of Islam has only yielded heartache and suffering.

"The 40 years of fruit from the revolution has been bitter," argued US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech last week in California, "40 years of kleptocracy, 40 years of the people's wealth squandered on supporting terrorism, 40 years of ordinary Iranians thrown in jail for peaceful expression of their rights."

This week's protests come on the heels of demonstrations last month in Tehran that saw protesters clash with police outside parliament.

Days after Mr. Trump issued a tweet warning Iran of "consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before," a top Iranian general shot back at the president.

"We are near you, where you can't even imagine," warned Qassem Soleimani, who heads Iran's elite Revolutionary Quds force. "We are the nation of martyrdom, we are the nation of Imam Hossein, you better ask. Come; we are ready. We are the man of this arena. You know that this war would mean annihilation of all your means."

"You may begin the war, but it is us who will end it," Soleimani added.

Despite all the bluster and heated rhetoric from Tehran, Iran is about to get hit with even more economic pain on Aug. 6 when crippling sanctions take effect. They'll target the country's technology, automobile, currency and precious metal industries, further damaging the economy and exerting more pressure on the regime.

"It was the Obama policies that emboldened the Iranians to finance terror," said Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch. "Trump, by placing new sanctions and reversing the nuclear deal, has made it so that the Iranian economy is in big trouble and the Iranian people are protesting saying, 'Why are you giving our money to the Palestinians when we are in economic desperate straits at home?'"

"This could bring about the downfall of the regime, which would be good for the Iranians and good for the world," added Spencer.

President Trump on Monday said he'd meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani "anytime" if the Iranian leader was willing.

During a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump was asked if he would meet with Iran's leaders on preconditions. Trump responded: "No preconditions. No. If they want to meet, I'll meet. Anytime they want. Anytime they want. It's good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world."

Reporters asked the president if he would consider direct contact with Rouhani.

"I'll meet with anybody," Trump said. "I believe in meeting. The (Italian) prime minister said it better than anybody can say it: Speaking to other people, especially when you're talking about potentials of war and death and famine and lots of other things—you meet."

"There's nothing wrong with meeting. We met, as you know, with Chairman Kim (Jong Un). And it—you haven't had a missile fired off in nine months. We got our prisoners back. So many things have happened. So positive," added the president.

However, Tehran-based political analyst Maziar Aghazadeh is skeptical of Trump's gesture.

"Iranian officials are trying to find out what President Trump's real motive is and to learn whether he is really seeking a deal or if his administration has rented out its foreign policy to a few countries to create chaos, instability and economic collapse in Iran," said Aghazadeh.

Watch Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's speech on “Supporting Iranian Voices” delivered July 22, 2018 at the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Library, in Simi Valley, California

In the meantime, Washington and Jerusalem are using the crisis to appeal directly to the Iranian people to stand up to the regime.

"While it is ultimately up to the Iranian people to determine the direction of their country, the United States, in the spirit of our own freedoms, will support the long-ignored voice of the Iranian people," said Pompeo.

"Our hope is that ultimately the regime will make meaningful changes in its behavior both inside of Iran and globally," he added.

 

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