World View: Escalating Violence in Iran Protests Brings Calls for Iran-Israel Friendship

The Associated Press
Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Iran protesters kill a police officer in escalating violence
  • Trump and Netanyahu express solidarity with Iranian protesters

Iran protesters kill a police officer in escalating violence

A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (AP)
A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (AP)

At least 15 people have been killed in widening street protests in Iran and Iran state television reports that one of the dead and several of the wounded are police officers.

During the 2009 demonstrations, retaliation by Iran’s security forces and by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was rapid and bloody. Iran’s government is anxious to avoid a repeat of the 2009 violence and bloodshed, and so the police have been restrained, and the IRGC has not gotten involved so far. However, the apparent ambush of a police officer may be a game-changer.

The BBC’s Iran correspondent Rana Rahimpour described how the protests got started (my transcription):

They are being careful about how forcefully they respond to these protests, because as [president Hassan Rouhani] has already acknowledged, people have a very legitimate reasons to be angry.

Over the last few months, there were scattered, relatively small protests against many of the investment banks that have gone almost bankrupt, had been shut down by the government, and more than two million people have lost their life savings.

And the first Death to Rouhani slogans that we had started from those smaller protests. So he knows that people have good reasons to be angry. We’re talking about serious corruption among the political élite. We’re talking about unemployment, which according to his interior minister, in some parts of the country that’s up to 60%.

These investment banks were apparently involved the same sorts of fraudulent deals as the US banks were during the subprime real estate crisis. As their bad debt accumulated, they went bankrupt and two million people lost their life savings. When the protests last week in Mashad in northeastern Iran, it was specifically in reaction to the corruption related to the bank bankruptcies, where a lot of ordinary people lost their life savings, while many in the political élite did well.

According to Rahimpour, the trigger for the current explosion in protests was Rouhani’s release of the upcoming annual budget, which fully revealed the level of corruption:

Three weeks ago, president Rouhani released the details of his upcoming budget for the Iranian new year in March, in which it became clear that he doesn’t have any control over more than half of the budget, that are already going to many religious organizations. And that went viral. People got extremely angry. Cause we’re talking about people that have lost their life savings, many factory workers haven’t been paid for months, they can’t pay their loans, they can’t pay their mortgages.

And suddenly they realize that OK, these religious clerical organizations are getting millions. So that’s one reason for anger. They’ve raised the price of bread, recently. There’s talk of raising the price of petrol. So all of this together, and possibly interference of regional rivals as President Rouhani said, together, the situation was ripe for unrest like we’re witnessing right now.

On top of this, it is becoming widely believed among the Iranian protesters that Iran got a huge financial bonanza from the Iran nuclear deal and the ending of sanctions and that the money had benefited these same clerical institutions, but had not benefited the ordinary people at all. This is the basis of the call for an end to the clerical regime.

In comparing to the 2009 protests, these protests are smaller, but they are far more widespread. The 2009 protests were concentrated mainly in Tehran, while the new protests are taking place in many smaller towns across Iran. Furthermore, unlike the 2009 protests, the current protests seem to be completely spontaneous and leaderless and are spreading through social media.

Without a protest leadership, the police are unable to target a single person or group of people. For that reason, the government is shutting down access to social media in the hope of suppressing the protests that way. Tehran Times and BBC and Al Jazeera and Reuters

Trump and Netanyahu express solidarity with Iranian protesters

As long-time readers are aware, I predicted over ten years ago, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran would be a United States ally in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war.

Ten years ago, the idea that Iran and the US would become allies seemed fantastical and insane. But during the Barack Obama administration, whatever one thinks of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran and America overcame much of the vitriolic rancor that separated them.

The reason that Iran and the US are becoming allies is generational. The hardliners in Iran are in the dying generations that fought in the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and considered the Iranian Hostage Crisis a great victory for them. However, those people are dying off, and the generations growing up after the war are pro-Western and pro-American. At some point, there will be an “Awakening climax” in Iran, like the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, that signals the victory of the younger generations over the war survivors and the end of the hardline regime. A likely outcome is that Iran will become the same kind of ally as it was under the Shah of Iran, prior to 1979.

So we are seeing Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu expressing friendship and support for Iran – not for the old geezers in the hardline regime, but for the young generation of protesters.

Donald Trump tweeted as follows:

Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!

Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.

Israel’s president Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video in which he said the following:

Iran’s cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people.

This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us. But they won’t succeed. And when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again. I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom.

The possible friendship between Netanyahu and the Iranian people exposes an important conflict in the geopolitics of the Mideast.

Recently, Israel has been closely allied with Egypt in fighting Islamist terrorists, especially in Egypt’s northern Sinai. Egypt has also been an ally of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Arab split that led to the blockade of Qatar over its close relations with Iran.

Israel has also recently been closely allied with Saudi Arabia because of their common enmity to Iran.

If you connect all those dots and now throw in a possible future détente between Israel and Iran, then you quickly arrive at a conflict. This is not a trivial situation, and will almost certainly lead to some kind of conflict not currently anticipated.

Generational Dynamics predictions that I’ve been posting for years have not changed. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the “axis” of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the “allies,” the US, India, Russia, and Iran. Reuters and Jerusalem Online

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iran, Hassan Rouhani, Rana Rahimpour, Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Egypt, Sinai, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Qatar
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