Somebody asked that on the previous thread. Short answer is I don’t know. But there’s more I can add. My Twitter feed has been full of reports from Iran. Demonstrations and rioting in several cities across the country are in their fourth day. Reports are that the demonstrations were started by the IRGC (hard-liners) to weaken President Rouhani and they got out of hand. I am taking pretty much everything provisionally. There are not a lot of reporters in Iran. People are not able to verify video purported to show events, and some look faked. Bellingcat is trying to start up a video verification and are asking for help.
My sense is that a great many people in Iran don’t know a lot about what is happening either. There are no clear leaders of the demonstrations, which have spread rapidly. Here’s a report from two days ago by Borzou Daragahi, who is in Istanbul. He’s a good person to follow on Twitter, too.
The government is taking a relatively moderate line, although two demonstrators have been killed.
There are a gajillion hot takes. Sir Lawrence Freedman, a historian at Kings College London, provided the all-purpose take.
'In retrospect it was inevitable'. My pre-prepared tweet for whatever happens to the protests in Iran.
— Lawrence Freedman (@LawDavF) December 30, 2017
Most of the hottest takes are of the form “The situation in Iran proves what I’ve been saying all along.” Of particular interest to me is the tie-in with the nuclear agreement. Most of those opposing the agreement are endorsing the demonstrations and hoping, sometimes openly, that they will lead to regime change, which is their goal. That’s not to say that a more open and democratic regime wouldn’t be an improvement, but getting there, as we’ve seen in Syria, has many pitfalls.
Donald Trump and a number of congresscritters have weighed in with statements supporting the demonstrators. Mike Pence has said he agrees with everything his boss says. The first Trump tweet was a copy of a Sarah Sanders tweet and relatively responsible. An argument continues as to whether we should support the demonstrators and their desire for greater democracy or if US support poisons the cause for many Iranians. The US is not popular in Iran, including among opponents of the regime.
Suzanne Maloney is another person you might want to follow on Twitter. Here is the start of one of her tweet threads on that subject.
On my feed (and in my household), there has been fierce debate around this question of what, if anything, the USG should say in response to turmoil in Iran. I come down somewhere in the middle…
— Suzanne Maloney (@MaloneySuzanne) December 31, 2017
The point is being made over and over again that if the Trump administration is sympathetic to the Iranian people, they might lift their immigration ban. Some of the people involved in the demonstrations will need to leave the country if the regime shuts down the protests.
And with that, I’ll open the thread for additional comments and questions. Fully open thread to come.