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The protests in Iran are entering their second week. With the regime also organizing demonstrations, the situation is confusing. But DW's Matthias von Hein says calls for regime change are counterproductive.

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It is the winter of discontent in Iran. A young population is rebelling. They've had enough of empty promises, enough of hollow religious and political slogans. The seeds for this wave of protests were sown with neoliberal economic policies that threw millions of people into poverty, rampant corruption, inadequate handling of an earthquake, and environmental disasters such as the rapidly dwindling water supply.

The tipping point came over the price of eggs, which had increased dramatically after the mass culling of chickens to contain an outbreak of bird flu. Local protests swelled into a wave of national unrest. But is this a revolution? One that could herald the end of Iran's theocratic system? It's doubtful. The strengths of this movement are also its weaknesses.

Given the lack of a clearly recognizable leadership and the decentralized, spontaneous nature of the protests, the regime can't simply arrest the figureheads and snuff out the revolt. But conversely, aside from the calls for better social conditions, there's no clear agenda — just contradictory demands.

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In the meantime, the regime has been able to mobilize its supporters in impressive numbers. And let's not forget: it has militia, the military, the police, and the secret service — who all have too much to lose to join in the protests. And they have shown us in the past that they are willing to brutally suppress the protests. In the roughly four decades of Iran's theocracy, there has been a large protest movement every 10 years.

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Most recently, the "green movement" in saw millions of people on the streets with a clear agenda and a clear leadership. It too, was suppressed in a bloody fashion — something that partly explains the reticence of the veterans to participate in the current protests.

Today's protests are highlighting the cracks in the establishment. Hardliners and moderate forces — there aren't really any true moderate or reform-oriented forces in Tehran's circles of power — are vying for power and influence.

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Demonstrating and free expression of opinion is a basic human right everywhere in the world, including Iran. This pressure can also be applied economically. Internet companies should also be required to keep open platforms for the free exchange of opinions. However, outright calls for regime change like we've heard from the United States are counterproductive. Iranians are also not buying President Trump's newly discovered sympathy for Iranians. They still remember the travel ban he imposed on their country — directed not just against ordinary Iranians, but also against political refugees.

Recent protests in Iran appear to have been motivated by economic frustrations. German businesses are investing in the country, but so far it's nowhere near enough to overcome Iran's economic stagnation, analysts say. Israelis have been following the protests in Iran avidly. The US has partially implemented President Donald Trump's temporary ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations. A temporary halt to refugee arrivals is also part of the ban. After four days of protests, Iranian President Rouhani has acknowledged rising frustration about the cost of living.

Two protesters have died and hundreds arrested while social media and messaging apps have been blocked. The elite branch of Iran's military has hailed "the end of sedition" as it embarks on a crackdown against anti-government protests. The country's supreme leader blames foreign agents for the unrest that killed 21 people. The reformists who once exhilarated the public with their quest to harmonize Islamic injunctions with democratic norms have long been cast aside.

Revolutionaries who eschew reform and condemn pragmatism as sinful diversion from the path of God are destined for the dustbin of history. The tragedy of Ali Khamenei is that in consolidating his revolution, he is ensuring the eventual demise of his regime. Oil and Petroleum Products. Jaffe October 29, Backgrounder by Jonathan Masters August 12, In Brief by Brad W.

Iran's Green Movement: The Voices of Dissent

Setser August 8, Women and Economic Growth. Skip to main content. Article Current political and economic issues succinctly explained. More From Our Experts.

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