The protests in Iran are the result of a frustrated population, whose purchasing power has fallen by 15 percent over the past 10 years. The citizens of the Islamic Republic have taken to the streets to complain about the high cost of living, the unemployment, the inflation, the corruption, the lack of transparency by public institutions and the mismanagement of public affairs.
However, the events of recent days are reminding Iranian actor Babak Karimi of “the Arab Spring, which later proved to be nothing but maneuvers for regime change under the cover of an internal revolt, and I would not want these people to be mere extras and a cover for maneuvers coming from somewhere else.” According to Karimi, “the simultaneous nature of the protests in several cities, and especially the slogans, suggest that someone is directing all of this behind the scenes, but no one knows who!” After all, in recent months, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, an adviser to President Trump, has repeatedly called for an American intervention in support of Iranian internal dissent.
The opinion that American, Israeli and Saudi intelligence have a hand in the protests is also shared by Jamileh Kadivar, a former deputy in the reformist legislature and a leading member of the opposition Green Movement of 2009. We spoke with her by phone in London, where she lives in exile with her husband Ataollah Mohajerani, minister of culture under the reformist president Muhammad Khatami. Kadivar notes that “on the first day, the slogans of the demonstrators in the holy city of Mashad were targeting President Rouhani,” who had proposed price increases for electricity, natural gas and gasoline starting from March 21. “But by the second day, the slogans had already taken on a more political connotation, which gives the impression that others, perhaps from abroad, have stimulated and provoked further protests in other cities beyond Mashad.”