Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did the right thing going on television and at least acknowledging popular anger over hard economic times. Inflation is high at 12% but down from 40% at the start of Rouhani’s first term. And the recent increase in fuel and food prices by up to 40% has hardly helped.
That was part of Team Rouhani’s 2018 budget, which cuts subsidies for the poor – a key feature of the previous Ahmadinejad administration.
Then there is youth unemployment, which hovers around the 30% mark. Similar figures recently came out of Spain, a member of the European Union. Of course, that explains why the bulk of the protesters are under 25 from working class backgrounds.
What Rouhani should have explained to Iranians in detail is the direct consequences of hard economic times and United States sanctions, which are affecting the country.
These were coupled with financial threats against western firms now back in business, or at least contemplating opening up operations, in Iran.
Rouhani did promise after signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, in the Austrian capital of Vienna in 2015 that it would lead to more jobs and stimulate the economy.
While that has not been the case, legitimate protests singling out economic problems have never gone away. In fact, they have been part of the Iranian picture for decades.
If we consider the Islamic Republic experiment, a sort of “theocracy with democratic characteristics,” the most striking element is how deeply rooted it is in the country.
I learned this during my many trips to Iran and it has a great deal to do with the basij, or voluntary militias. They have permeated all aspects of social life from unions to student bodies and civil servant groups.
In this respect, there is a strong similarity to China, where the Communist Party is embedded in the very fabric of society.
Talking to young people in places such as Kashan or Mashhad showed me how solid the popular base was behind the Islamic Republic experiment. It was certainly more thought-provoking than listening to ayatollahs in Qom.
Still, what is happening now in Iran is that legitimate protests related to economic hardships have been hijacked by the usual suspects in a move to influence the minority. After all, Rouhani’s administration is comparatively liberal compared to the populist Ahmadinejad government.
So, what we have is a concerted attempt to turn legitimate protests into a “revolutionary” movement with the aim of bringing about a regime change. In all practical purposes, this would be civil war.
Well, it will simply not work. Anyone familiar with Iran knows the country’s civil society is far too sophisticated to fall into such a crude and obvious trap.
For a clear take on the foreign influence angle, you should watch Professor Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, an academic of absolute integrity, arguing with a former BBC employee on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television network.
Indeed, what is certain is that foreign elements are acting as provocateurs to influence the protests. This “whole world is watching” tone is meant to intimidate Tehran’s response.
Yet there has to be a crackdown against the violence as Rouhani strongly hinted. Imagine the police response if the level of violence seen on Iranian streets was happening in France or Germany?
Regime change is unlikely but what is in play is setting the scene for a further renewal of economic sanctions against Iran. Possibly, in this case by the EU. Hopefully, it will not fall into this trap.
Anyway, Tehran is already gearing up to increase business across Eurasia through China’s new Silk Roads, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Eurasia Economic Union.
In the end, it is up to Team Rouhani to be creative in alleviating the burden on the economic front.
A balanced an realistic assessemnt that we expect from Pepe… but Rouhani and Co better get in gear soon with the OBOR initiative. Maybe Beijing can arrange for early release of funds to sop up low unemployment before things get out of hand.
Reneging on the nuclear agreement, constantly threatening Iran,possibly using cyber capabilty to sow disinformation and the primitive Trump egging on violence on Iran streets — and the U.S. claims to be blameless?
Pepe Escobar hates the USA and is an evangelist for the Chinese and the BRI. But this article is the most disgustingly corrupt article I have read by him and jettisoned any respect I had for his insights.
Maybe you could point out where he is wrong. I’d be interested in your assessment of the situation.
It is a open US,Israel and their Arab allies conspiracy. It must failed like Syria.
Well done again, Pepe Escobar. The knee-jerk response from the fascist war-mongers is always ‘they hate us’, just like how Art Laramee is saying here 🙂
Art Laramee – troll alias? As John Robertson asks, ‘Art’, where is he wrong? Let’s hear your expertise; the real thing, that is, not empty talking points.
To all my fans who have responded here… The US is guilty of a lot of transgressions in history. To bring those up in today’s environment is wasted energy. The US has also done a lot of good as well, but that too is old news. To point out the bad or the good behavior of a country in history satisfies the explanation of ones bias, but unless it is put in perspective of all the bad and good of the rest of the countries in the world it is just grist for the mill… The USA exists in a real world with current policies and behaviors. And even when the government is despised by others it may also be despised by the people governed and even if countries are at each others throats the people of those countries may actually harbor no ill feelings towards each other. I think of Iran when I say that. I don;t actually know anyone who hates Iranian people here in the US. But we are all aware of the constant threats that have emanated from the Mullahs since the overthrow of the Shah, who was to us, the head of his country, that’s all we know. That’s pretty much how China treats all countries as well. Good or bad leaders, the Chinese don’t have anything to say as long as the trade is there. I don’t hear anyone criticizing China over that. And that is hoe Donald Trump is unless he is threatened.
The US/Israel/Saudi coalition is likely to stimulate more Iranian demonstrations. US False flags are expected to instigate further crack down on dissident in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and blame them for receiving support from Iran. Jared Kushner allegedly support Saudi Arabia acquiring nukes. US withdraw aid to Pakistan, Egypt, and Palestine. Not a good start for peace in 2018.
Hmm and the truth will set you free,except those with a closed mind that is…
Indeed and just how many have we killed Korea Nam Cambodia Iraq Afghanistan Libya Syria and that failes to even touch the bloody dictators we have installed,now we are in Africa to slaughter a few thousand there but that’s less then the millions we slaughtered in Asia, and lets not forget the Ukraine we my friend are a rouge nation and as with all rouges we must be contained for there will be no peace in the world until we are…
The only problem with America is that it is committing suicide.
What should we do? Advise them to stop, stand aside and watch, or rejoice? Pepe Escobar does the first, but Socrates found out to his chagrin that it ends up being forced to drink hemlock.
This anchorman is a propaganda instrument. If he wanted different answers, he should’ve invited somebody else. I don’t know about BBC Persia (the English BBC is a propaganda outlet), but the VOA was developed as a propaganda outlet straightforward. Aljazeera is as biased to say the least.
WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN BEFORE THE ZIONIST CRIMINALS GET THEIR HOOKS INTO THE YOUNG AND FORCE A MAIDAN KIEV COLOR REVOLUTION. NO MATER THAT PEPE THINKS NOT. MONEY TALKS AND IT THEY SPREAD IT AROUND AS IN KIEV ,THE YOUNG WILL BIT AS TO WHAT HAVE THEY TO LOSE??
The British never change; do they? This man, in particular, either lives in a cubical, or he’s lying. As an American, our media (and all the vassal media sites in the EU) have called Iran, the Evil Empire just as they did when the Soviets were in power. Morandi was politely observe his keen observations about Iran’s social fabric as well as the VERY REAL threats chiefly emanating from the US and Israel.
The US "hegemony" knows it’s "empire" is in trouble. That UN vote said it all, don’t you think. Add that to the far more threatening power of China/Russia/Brics One Belt One Road Initiative, and it’s glarlingly obvious the US will do everything in their power to destroy Russia, China, Iran and ANYBODY who dares refuse dealing with US $$$$$. That hegemony is the VERY BACKBONE US power. Once that power diminishes, so too, does the US military.
Be prepared for a lot of fireworks this 2018 because the real evil empire – America will go to extremes. Guaranteed.
Thank God for Pepe Escobar!!!!
Not your fault, I’m sure….but you failed to mention wholesale destruction in most Latin American nations by the US. That’s been going on for decades.
Rowena Millis Rowena, There’s a ;ot of hate here. Hate leads to some pretty shameful acts of inhumanity in a lot of places. My problem is it sounds to me like everyone ignores every one elses transgressions and acts like the US is unique and without merit, which is total bullshit…
Too bad more people in this world aren’t as knowledgeable as you are.
Very little of sense to be found on this topic. Thank you Pepe.
Shut up, you moron. Pepe is simply revealing the truth, something that you conveniently ignore..
Why pursue the peaceful(?) nuclear energy program when the country is a major oil producer? Of course her neighbors and other parties would be suspicious..hence the sanctions. Now if they could just eat their uranium/plotunium, ther’d be no protests.
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