The ayatollahs and the demonstrators: is the Iranian theocracy running out of time?

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Reports emanating from Iran state that the recent demonstrations by ordinary Iranians against economic hardships have been suppressed. These reports may well be true; the Iranian theocracy has previously shown little compunction in using overbearing force against demonstrators despite international protestations against the government-sanctioned violence. Speaking to the semi-official FARS news agency, Mohammad Ali Jaffari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), stated that he had dispatched forces to Hamadan, Isfahan and Lorestan provinces to tackle ‘the new sedition’, no doubt a reference to the protests of 2009, the so-called Green Movement. In the aftermath of those protests, the government’s official figures for the protests were 2,500 arrests in Tehran alone, with as many as 150 in jail and 30 dead. The claim was widely disputed at the time, with suspicions of a cover-up of a massacre in which “hundreds” of protestors were killed being propounded. There is little reason to believe that the current government would have been any gentler in its treatment of the protestors this time around. In fact, it had less reason to be.

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