Over the past several days, a series of protests across Iran have given expression to a growing frustration at that nation’s economic prospects. Indeed, these protests come at a time when the regime in Tehran is once more facing a climate of stinging sanctions led by the United States, following the decision of President Donald Trump to withdraw Washington from the international nuclear agreement reached in 2015 between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.
While the US had been part of that agreement over the future and nature of Tehran’s nuclear programme, ordinary Iranians had a measure of hope that indeed their daily lives would be improved, their currency worth more, their businesses would have access to international markets, foreign companies could sell their superior goods into the local marketplace and their economy could once more grow without the punitive measures curtailing growth and prosperity.
Come August, Iran will once more face sanctions, and any international company that continues to consider business as usual there will face measures from Washington. The current protests come as the value of the Iranian rial is reaching historic lows, and police have stepped up measures to clamp down on hard-pressed Iranians who now face much higher prices on mostly any and all foreign imports.
The recent roller-coaster ride for Iranians over the money in their pockets and their economic prosperity is certainly understandable, but the regime there has failed to provide the necessary international guarantees that allow the prospect of economic normality to return to their domestic market. At the same time, as the regime negotiated the international agreement over its nuclear programme, it was supplying arms and missiles to Al Houthi rebels in Yemen, its militias were undermining the Iraqi government, it was backing the actions of President Bashar Al Assad in Syria, was subverting political activity in Lebanon, and was actively spreading sedition across the Arabian Gulf.
The blame for this current wave of protests can be laid directly at the feet of Iran’s leadership who are intent on spreading its sectarian agenda from the Bab Al Mandab to the Mediterranean. The regime is more intent on spreading chaos from Yemen to Lebanon than it is on engaging with its citizens and making sure that their economic well-being is met. The reality is that Iran will have to endure domestic isolation and privation — the cost of being rightfully shunned over its foreign policies.