After nationwide anti-government protests in December 2018, and especially after Iran’s November 2019 protests, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has cited the regime’s “security” crisis and the threat of being toppled in practically all his speeches.
The massive protests in 2018 and 2019 challenged the regime’s brutal security measures, and despite the ensuing crackdown, protesters reminded the regime of its inevitable destiny.
Iran’s November 2019 protests
The 2019 protests had distinct features that set it apart from previous protests and social unrest in Iran. Political observers and researchers who follow Iran believe that the protests should not be considered as a passing event.
The combination of international pressure, border insecurity, and conflicts in the Persian Gulf, along with the sharp decline of Iran’s currency and economic and livelihood challenges, had made 2019 a special year, especially for the ruling clerics in Iran.
Let us go back a bit and look at Iran’s November 2019 protests. It began on the evening of November 15, 2019 and quickly spread to more than 160 cities after the government tripled the price of gasoline overnight.
The regime raised the price of gas at a time when Iranians were already struggling to make ends meet and were facing economic and financial challenges.
In a recent article on October 27, the state-run Resalat daily called the 2019 protests a “spark in the existing gunpowder warehouse”.
In fact, during the first two days of Iran’s November 2019 protests, angry Iranians torched gas stations, banks, police stations, governor’s offices, police kiosks, security force cars and motorcycles, bases belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its paramilitary branch the Basij, IRGC owned chain stores, seminaries, offices of the heads of Friday prayers, ATM’s, and charity boxes lining Iran’s streets.
About one week after the protests, lawmaker Mojtaba Zulnuri who heads the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee told state-run TV that in only one day, protesters clashed with security forces in 800 areas including 147 areas in Tehran. He also said protesters torched 900 gas stations across the country.
Khamenei’s explicit order to “do whatever it takes to end it” was a green light to security forces to fire bullets into the heads and hearts of young Iranians, including women and children. Security forces brutally shot and killed more than 1,500 civilians in just five days across Iran. At least 12,000 protesters and civilians were detained. The Iranian regime also implemented a total internet blackout for about a week into the protests to prevent its atrocities from reaching the outside world.
Why more protests are imminent
The factors that led to Iran’s November 2019 protests have not faded and have actually increased and become more widespread.
If the sudden rise in the price of gasoline could lead to huge angry protests across Iran, the current plight of Iranians, including the shortage of bread and water and severe price fluctuations have the potential to spark huge protests.
One should not assume that the Iranian regime is in the same position it was in November 2019, when it brutally killed 1,500 protestors.
On the contrary. The Iranian regime is currently swamped in a plethora of economic, social, and political challenges and crises. International sanctions have weakened the regime’s support for its proxy forces, diminishing its regional power.
The people of Iran believe that Iran’s November 2019 protests have not ended and that a tiny spark may once again ignite protests across the county.