What's Behind Protests in Iran and Iraq?
Our main story this morning we've been covering the wave of global protests from Hong Kong to Latin America and our shows over the past few weeks today. We're going to catch you up on what's been happening. In the Middle East and Iran and Iraq specifically both countries have seen widespread protests during the past month this morning in Iraq back protesters set fire to an Iranian consulate. In the city of Nejaf Sooner Rasmussen has been following it all he joins me now from Beirut so soon let's start with Iran then. We saw some pretty violent protests there. What was there genesis? So these protests they were triggered by a decision by the Ruhani government commit to drastically increase fuel prices. Gasoline prices pretty much overnight they enacted this decision late on a Friday. Nine Friday is like Sunday. Iran holiday probably two draws little attention to this decision as possible and increase fuel prices on on about two hundred percent which was the case neuron something that hits everybody in the country but especially lower classes and middle classes and this of course comes after for a long period years of deep economic crisis in Iran that's only been exacerbated by American sanctions American sanctions. Iran have have undermined the national currency. It sent prices skyrocketing and it's is also increased unemployment and all these things combined with just a general unhappiness with the with Iran's isolation in the world and also the government's inability to give any kind of relief from international sanctions. I think that's what eventually triggered this protests that we saw earlier. It's month so walk me through what happened. These protests then begin and then we see a strong response from the regime right. The regime came out in full force and it came out very quickly. We've had reports of for mass arrests of quite violent crackdown on protesters. I think actually actually this crackdown. Tanner surpasses anything. We've seen from the Iranian regime. In the past there was also a a big anti-government protests in two thousand and nine for different reasons there were some protests in late two thousand seventeen early twenty eighteen but this time the crackdown town was more swift and from everything we see. It's it that we've seen has always been more violent and it's caused more deaths among protesters is a little I need to make a caveat that it's it's a little unclear what happened in Iran because one of the things that we did was to almost entirely cut caught off the national Internet those only about four or five percent cutting tiffany over over a period of the week while this crackdown was unfolding. So we do know To some extent what happened but still a lot of things that are only just emerging now and I think the reason the regime crackdowns hottest and now it has experienced is from for example Syria where it helped President Assad fin doth a big popular uprising. There and it's seen across the region. How public topic uprisings can can threaten national governments and unseat them and I think he wants to avoid anything similar happening inside Iran? I mean you bring up protests elsewhere in the region. We also saw that. There has been unrest in Iraq as well over the past few weeks. Yes and then does that. That unrest in Iraq has been even more violent actually the protests there have have demanded a complete overhaul of the a political system. They're not just going for the prime minister. They're they're basically asking the entire political lead to resign in the want to complete a new political system system and in the political system Iran has a lot of influence through local militias that have the whole lot sway in the local government so the popular protests there are a challenge to Iran's influence in Iraq and a lot of protests was actually especially down south in Iraq have have also called for Iran's leave the country and as these protests have continued. People have been to have been the streets for several months now now as they have continued they've kind of taken on an increasingly anti Rania bent and and especially down. South protesters testers are increasingly turning against Iran. And last month Stephen third down the Iranian consulate. And so we've seen unrest arrest in Iran. We've seen unrest in Iraq. What does the future hold? I know it's hard to predict these things but it seems like quite a lot's been kicking off. I think until until the Iranian government manages to Kinda give the population some relief whether economic or social is also a lot of social grievances inside Tyron. I think we'll see this protest kind of boil over from time to time whether they seriously challenge the the government also the broader leadership in Tehran. That remains to be seen. I think. Uranian Dirani population is also very aware that any kind of uprising will be met with fierce forced by the Iranian authorities.