Unrest across the country appears to have multiple causes. What exactly sparked it, and where it will lead, remains unclear
It takes bravery, perhaps incaution, to forecast what will unfold in the year ahead. It would be true folly to predict what will happen in Iran in the coming hours and days. The protests, which reached their fourth day on Sunday, quickly spread across provinces to become the largest since the huge pro-reform rallies of 2009’s green movement. There have been unprecedented calls of “Death to [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei”, the supreme leader, and even reports of people lauding the monarchy toppled in the 1979 revolution. Other chants have attacked Tehran’s geopolitical ambitions: “Let go of Syria, think about us.” It is Iran’s growing heft in the region, and the sharpening of its rivalry with Saudi Arabia, that makes internal turbulence more significant than ever.
The brutal repression of the green movement weighs heavily on people’s minds. The interior minister warned that those who disrupt public order will “pay the price”; the Revolutionary Guards have threatened an “iron fist”; two protesters have died; some social media apps have been blocked.