As protests surge in Iraq and Lebanon, the Iranian regime also has to deal with its own protest movement. Since late 2017, there have been hundreds of protests in Iran per month about such issues as deteriorating economic conditions, environmental degradation, and political grievances. However, these protests are unlikely to threaten regime survival—at least for now. The Iranian protest movement is currently too decentralized and Iranian security forces are likely too strong to overthrow the regime. Still, the litany of grievances in Iran suggest that the regime will have to deal with persistent domestic discontent.
Weeks of mass demonstrations have engulfed Lebanon and Iraq, two countries where Iran wields significant influence. On October 29, 2019, for example, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned following massive protests. In Iraq, violent demonstrations erupted as protesters complained about poor economic conditions, the government’s failure to deliver adequate public services, and Iran’s influence in the country.
Even before the Lebanese and Iraqi protests began, domestic unrest within Iran prompted many observers to predict that the regime was on the verge of collapse. As former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted, “With the recent protests in #Iran, we can see the danger that the regime is in.”1 Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) remarked that “protests throughout Iran suggest that clerical rule’s days are numbered. Iranians want more freedom.”2
Citing unnamed senior U.S. government officials, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted that U.S. policymakers “believe there is now a rare opportunity to bring about the collapse of the Iranian regime.”3 Not to be outdone, Trump adviser Rudolph Giuliani predicted that “the people of Iran obviously have had enough. The sanctions are working. The currency is going to nothing . . . these are the kinds of conditions that lead to successful revolutions.” Read more