Are Iran Protests Evolving Into Syrian-Like Civil War?

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Above: Iranian students confront police at the University of Tehran during a demonstration on December 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

We are closely following the protests in Iran, which seem to have begun as protests about the Iranian economy. They have evolved into protests favoring regime change and urging Iran to stop protecting the Palestinian people and its involvement in Lebanon and Syria. An article by Moon of Alabama, which we republished, raises the question of whether these protests are being manipulated by the United States and Israel as a color revolution regime change strategy. That is still an open question and one for which we are seeking evidence.

Reuters reports that a small percentage of protesters are using the demonstrations to raise foreign policy issues. Another Reuters report described increasing violence by protesters, leading to a strong response by Iranian authorities. Associated Press reported that nine protesters were killed, including some who tried to storm a police station to take weapons. Iranian state television puts the death toll in six days of demonstrations to at least 20 people. These reports are reminiscent of how the Arab Spring protests in Syria became violent and were the seeds of the bloody Syrian civil war.

Author Max Blumental pointed out the similarity between the Syrian escalation and the escalation in Iran, tweeting:

Both President Trump and Prime Minister Netenyahu applauded the Iranian protesters. Trump is calling for regime change and Netenyahu is calling it a fight for freedom.  Russia described the protests as being fueled by external forces, according to the Times of Israel.  The Turkish Foreign Ministry urged protesters to avoid violence and not to fall for “provocations.”

Tass reported on Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s description of the protests, writing, “This is Iran’s internal affair. We express the hope that the situation won’t develop under the scenario of bloodshed and violence.” Further the Foreign Ministry stressed, “External interference destabilizing the situation is inadmissible.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on television, “In the events of recent days, the enemies have united and are using all their means, money, weapons, policies and security services to create problems for the Islamic regime,” adding “The enemy is always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate and strike the Iranian nation.”

On Twitter, some observers are pointing out that photos claiming to be of the protest are not really from Iranian protests:

Reportedly 450 people have been arrested in three days of protests and the courts are threatening to treat them harshly. Arrested protesters could potentially face death penalty cases when they come to trial, the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has reportedly warned.  “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or “waging war against God”, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying.

President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers, according to the Independent.

While Western media is reporting massive protests, people in Iran are reporting a different perspective like this series of tweets by Sayed Mousavi, an Islamic Culture & Communications Student:

This is a developing story with conflicting reports making it hard to understand what is really going on. As a result, it is one we will continue to monitor and report on.