(Persia Digest) – An Iranian Moderate conservative political theorist believes: “If economic pressures become too unbearable for the low-income social class, a new wave of protests will be possible; however, it will not lead to a regime change but will oust the government.”
Amir Mohebbian told Persia Digest (PD): “According to studies, what happened in December-January 2017 was a foreshock which can be followed by an earthquake measuring over seven-magnitude. It can be considered a warning which saves us from falling into an abyss. When there is not listening ear, problems will change into protests and if there is no eye to see the protests, they will create blockages or riots which will have more destructive effects.”
As for the reasons behind Iran’s protests in 2017, the theorist said: “Mounting expectations, reduced facilities, portraying the Islamic establishment as an inefficient system in the eyes of people and finally, dashing hopes of a promising future and creating a dark future for the country in the public mind were four major reasons leading to those events. The protests took place in regions which had by no means taken steps for political protests previously. Areas such as Lorestan, Mashhad or Qom. According to studies, these areas have the highest rates of unemployment.”
This Moderate conservative added: “The misuse of protests by anti-revolutionary agents should also be taken into consideration. But limiting the protests only to the anti-revolutionary agents means ignoring the realities. According to an assessment made by the Ministry of Culture, about 75 percent of participants in the protests believed that the system acted inefficiently in solving the existing problems and this is the same 7.5-magnitude earthquake that I have said can take place. In addition, some 70-75 percent of people participating in similar polls said that they believed the future would either be worse or will not improve.”
Referring to the role of political figures in social developments, Mohebbian said: “In the present circumstances, personal and group interests have found priority over national interests and political factions use the existing facilities to fight against each other. Therefore, according to polls, politician have as much credit in the eyes of the public as “real estates.”
Asked which political party has sustained the most damage in the 2017 protests, Mohebbian said: “The protests were staged against the inefficiency of the system in solving the economic problems; therefore, it was a clear criticism of the country’s management system. Reformists were targeted by the protests even more than the fundamentalists as the protests were against the performance of a government which had come to power with the support of reformists. If we consider the protests a shock to the halted heart of the managing system of Iran, this shock can revive this halted heart. That is why I believe that factional blame games about the protests are not correct and that they [protests] were the result of weaknesses by both political parties.
Commenting on the weak points and strong points of the behavior of security forces as well as government officials with the protestors, the political analyst said: “The way that law enforcement and security forces dealt with last year’s protests was much more professional and patient than what happened during the 2009protests. The law enforcement and security forces at first let the protestors express their views and discharge the dense energy over a course of time. Then the law enforcement forces, who deal with such events, controlled the situation without involving other forces. The third major point was that none of the Iranian authorities has denied the right of protest and instead, showed empathy with the protestors; but at the same time, they opposed to any form of overreacting, destruction or chanting against existing norms and all these have indicated that the system has matured with the experiences it had accumulated from past incidents.”
Mohebbian added: “In general, the system has accepted the people’s right to protest and consider it a part of the system not against it. Therefore, protests will no longer be labelled as efforts to overthrow the government or system and this is a great step forward. Now, if another step is to be taken, we will have officially accepted the right to holding street protests and therefore, we only need the permission to stage such protests based on the request of protestors and within the framework of law and this will be the winning card for the system and a sign of existence of practical freedom in Iran. Under such circumstances, street protests will be held and the system will deal with it with tolerance.”
Commenting on the possibility of similar protests in the future as a result of the US new sanctions on Iran, Mohebbian said: “If the economic pressures reach a point where it is unbearable for the low-income classes of society, the occurrence of similar protests will be possible. However, two conditions will increase such a possibility. The first is that if Iranian officials have failed to learn their lesson from last year’s (2017) protests and the second is if a weak management fails to solve problems from the start of similar protests and change everything into a Gordian knot.”
Commenting on the possibility of changing the Iranian establishment through potential protests, Mohebbian said: “When holding protests is free, the possibility of changing the establishment is too low. The power of mobilizing system and establishment supporters is too high and the US has no precise estimation of the popular bases of the Islamic Republic and the extent of people’s loyalty. Therefore, changing Iran’s establishment through such a mechanism is much more like a US dream rather than an analysis based on reality. However, public pressures and gatherings are strong enough to change the government and create major developments.”
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