The Iranian Protests: The Beginning of the End for the Theocracy?

Iran faces its own version of the political upheaval that is occurring around the globe. The decision by Tehran to ration fuel supplies has led to an increase in prices. Not only was the decision not well received among ordinary Iranians, it was also a questionable one, as the extra US$800 million (approx. $1.2 billion) that Tehran might save per year will not make an improvement to its fiscal circumstances. The effect of the price increase, however, was so significant that members of the parliament resigned, while others are working to reverse the decision. The civil unrest that resulted gave rise to anti-government demonstrations in 40 different cities, and brought together more than 85,000 people. The government, in turn, blocked access to the Internet. Amnesty International has estimated scores of injuries and deaths at the hands of security forces. Demonstrators have also burned banks and police stations while chanting “death to the dictator” and “Reza Pahlavi, bless your soul”, a reference to the son of the Shah of Iran, the ruler before the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stood by the government’s decision, saying it was a decision made by the three branches of government. That, however, might not be the case, after all.

Read the article by Norbert Chang, Research Assistant, Indo-Pacific Research Programme in Future Directions International.