But those exerting the most pressure are the people of Iran. They started protesting at the end of 2017 and continued through the whole of 2018. The protests and anti-government demonstrations that started out small quickly spread across the whole country with people from all of the provinces participating.
Initially, the protests were based around economic concerns but they quickly evolved into denunciations of the regime’s belligerence and corruption. And there were loud and clear calls for regime change, with the people declaring it their only option if they are ever to experience freedom and democracy and to enjoy human rights.
An Iranian Professor of Economics has said that there will be further protests this year if the country’s government decides to stick with its “misguided” policies. The economic pressures following the reinstatement of the crippling sanctions that were lifted when the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was signed will also have a bearing influence.
Dr Farshad Momeni from the Allameh Tabatabi University said that looking into the protests and analysing the reasons behind them show that the social injustices the people are faced with are of primordial importance.
In his book, “Edalat-e Ejtema’ei, Azadi, va Tose’eh dar Iran-e Emruz” [Social Justice, Freedom, and Progress in Modern Day Iran] which was published only a few months before the protests broke out in December 2017, Dr Momeni warned that the people of Iran, for years, have been dealing with the consequences of the regime’s corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
He gave the example of meat consumption, saying that in 1989 the average consumption of meat in Iran was around 122kgs per year. It dropped to 78kgs in 1994, and then again to 40kgs in 2012. He said that the need for people to save money in such areas shows “difficult living”.
He then said: “When housekeeping money is cut to the bone, the country will be faced with unpredictable, popular reactions.” And he said that he warned the Iranian government so.
Other factors include the unemployment levels in the country. Only a small portion of the country is in full-time and permanent employment and even they are finding life difficult financially.
Much of the middle class has fallen into the lower class, dating back to the days that Ahmadinejad was president. Back at that time, many people left the country in search of employment elsewhere – brain drain as it is known.
During the interview, Dr Momeni pointed out that the unrest during the nineties was not deemed as significant as it should have been because it was rooted in economic issues. The recent wave of protests couldn’t have been more different.