The anti-government protests, reported in at least 40 cities and towns across Iran, started on economic matters but have turned political, with protesters chanting anti-government slogans and calling for the regime’s fall, social media showed. posted videos of activists.
When did the protests start and what was the reason?
Protests erupted in some of Iran’s poorer cities in early May after the government cut state subsidies on food, pushing prices for several flour-based commodities up 300%. The price of other basic commodities, such as cooking oil and dairy products, also spiked. The government said the move was aimed at redistributing subsidies to lower-income people.
The subsidy changes, aimed at controlling the prices of basic commodities, were introduced earlier this month by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in an attempt to mitigate the effect of a rise in global wheat prices and US sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Large crowds took to the streets of southwestern Khuzestan province to protest a price hike, and later protests spread to other provinces.
Most of the protesters were public sector workers, Zep Kalb, a visiting fellow at Bourse & Bazaar Foundation think tank, told DailyExpertNews. But among the protesters are also teachers and drivers.
Does the war in Ukraine have anything to do with these protests?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Iran is one of the largest wheat importers in the world and depends on Russia and Ukraine for almost 40% of its wheat supply.
How has the government responded to the protests?
The government has acknowledged the protests but said they were small gatherings. State media also described the protesters as “rioters and provocateurs” and said dozens were arrested.
Authorities have said domestic unrest over food prices has been fueled by foreign “enemies” and the “rumors they spread and lies they tell.”
Some social media users in Iran said internet services have been disrupted, but Iranian officials have denied the claim.
Will the protests have a bigger impact?
The protests will not necessarily topple the Iranian regime, but the government’s lack of adequate response could simmer discontent, Jason Razaian, former Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post, wrote in an op-ed.
“At the same time, the regime has no cure for the current set of complaints,” he wrote. “Which means they will continue and become even more frequent as public desperation mounts.”
“The Iranian government has planned its annual budget with the expectation of higher oil revenues and possible sanctions relief,” Kalb said. “Since either seems unlikely now, I wouldn’t be surprised if unannounced austerity measures and decisions are made to cut back on social spending in the near future.”
Mostafa Salem of DailyExpertNews contributed to this report.
Israel confirms first case of monkeypox virus
Israeli health officials confirmed on Saturday that the country’s first case of monkey pox had been discovered in Tel Aviv. The health ministry reported that a man admitted to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv who showed symptoms of monkey pox tested positive for the disease on Saturday.
- Background: Hospital officials said the patient had recently returned from Western Europe when he arrived at the emergency room on Friday. He has been quarantined since monkey pox was suspected and is in good condition, they said.
- Why it matters: The World Health Organization describes monkey pox as a rare viral disease with symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and rashes and lesions on the skin. It has said there are at least 80 confirmed cases of monkey pox worldwide and at least 50 are under investigation.
Israeli Arab lawmaker returns to coalition days after stepping down
Lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi returned to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition on Sunday, days after her dramatic resignation left the Israeli leader at the head of a minority government.
- Background: She dropped out Thursday with a letter listing all kinds of complaints about the government’s treatment of the Arab community in Israel. The move left Bennett with the support of just 59 members in the 120-member parliament, the Knesset. Rinawie Zoabi said on Sunday she was under “enormous pressure” from Arab mayors to change her mind about resigning.
- Why it matters: Her return gives Bennett the support of 60 members of the Knesset. The resignation did not automatically mean the fall of the government, but it does increase the chances that the opposition can dissolve parliament and force new elections.
Iran’s President Swears Revenge Over Revolutionary Guard Colonel’s Murder
A colonel of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has been killed in a rare assassination in Tehran, the elite corps said on Sunday. President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed to avenge his death.
- Background: Two people on a motorcycle opened fire on Colonel Sayad Khodai on Sunday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Since 2010, at least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed in incidents believed to have targeted Iran’s nuclear program.
- Why it matters: No one has so far claimed responsibility for the Colonel’s murder. But his death sparks tensions as negotiators strive to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Talks have stalled since March over Iran’s outstanding demand that the US remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Around the region
The Dubai version of the popular Real Housewives reality franchise has caused a stir on social media after the trailer was released by Bravo TV this weekend.
Debuting on June 1, the show chronicles the lavish lifestyles of six housewives, who represent the diverse makeup of the city, including Arab, Western and African women. The women are busy with the vibrant nightlife of Dubai, doing photo shoots in the desert and yoga on the artificial Palm Island.
But the apparently limited portrayal of women in Dubai in the show has locally ruffled some feathers.
Majid Al Amri, a Twitter user, denounced the portrayal of Dubai’s women as “gold diggers” who “wear bikinis on the beach and use the dirtiest language you can ever imagine.” The real housewives of Dubai are “our mothers, sisters and daughters,” he said. “Yes, we are a tolerant country, but that doesn’t mean others can walk over our morals and values.”
One user asked how authorities had allowed the show to be filmed in the city, and several called on the government to stop the show. Others called for the show to be renamed ‘Real Expatriate Housewives of Dubai’.
Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, where almost 90% of the population is made up of foreigners.
One user pointed out that the show doesn’t portray Emirati women, but expats, and “this is what they look like and how they dress,” he said.
Sara Al Madani, one of the “housewives” in the show, is Emirati. Known as a socialite, she hosted a “Great Gatsby” themed birthday party in 2019 for top footballer Karim Benzema, but she is also known locally as a successful businesswoman.
In a clear response to the controversy, Al Madani said on Instagram: “This is a judgment that has no factual knowledge”, adding that it will help break Western stereotypes about the Arab world. “plus you haven’t seen the show yet!!!!!!”
By Mohammed Abdelbary