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Why Iranians Are Taking to the Streets Again

Anti-government protests, reported in at least 40 cities and towns across Iran, began over economic issues but turned political, with protesters chanting anti-government slogans and calling for the regime’s downfall, it has been shown. social media videos posted by activists.

When did the protests start and what triggered them?

In early May, protests erupted in some of Iran’s poorest cities after the government cut state food subsidies, causing prices to soar by 300% for several staple foods made from flour. The price of other commodities, such as cooking oil and dairy products, has also increased. The government said the move was aimed at redistributing grants to low-income people.

The subsidy changes, aimed at controlling commodity prices, were introduced by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this month in a bid to mitigate the effect of a rise in global wheat prices and US sanctions. on the Iranian economy.

Large crowds took to the streets in the southwestern province of Khuzestan to protest against a price hike, with protests later spreading to other provinces.

Most of the protesters were public sector workers, Zep Kalb, a visiting fellow at the Stock Exchange & Bazaar Foundation think tank, told CNN. But the protesters also include teachers and drivers.

The rallies had echoes of 2019, when many took to the streets over rising fuel prices in protests that became the deadliest since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

Does the war in Ukraine have anything to do with these protests?

The Iranian economy, paralyzed by Western sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic, was already struggling to cope. The war in Ukraine was a “double whammy” for her, Kalb said.
“In addition to rising bread prices, Russia’s discounted oil and gas exports to China have also made it harder for Iran to sell hydrocarbons to its main trading partner,” he said. declared.

Iran is one of the world’s top wheat importers, depending on Russia and Ukraine for nearly 40% of its wheat supplies, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Since its oil was sanctioned by the United States in 2018, Iran has relied on Chinese buyers. But its crude exports to China have fallen sharply since Russia invaded Ukraine, Reuters reported, adding that Beijing is increasingly leaning towards discounted barrels from Russia as that country makes facing Western sanctions because of its war in Ukraine.

How has the government reacted to the protests?

The government acknowledged the protests but said they were small gatherings. State media also described the protesters as “rioters and provocateurs” and said dozens had been arrested.

Authorities said the domestic unrest over food prices had been fomented by foreign “enemies” and the “rumors they spread and the lies they told”.

Some social media users in Iran said internet services had been disrupted, but Iranian officials denied the claim.

Are the protests likely to have a wider impact?

The protests won’t necessarily bring down the Iranian regime, but the lack of an adequate government response could simmer discontent, Jason Razaian, former Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post, wrote in an opinion piece.

“At the same time, the regime has no remedy for the current set of complaints,” he wrote. “Which means they will continue, becoming even more frequent as public desperation grows.”

Why Iranians Are Taking to the Streets Again
The protests also come as Iran attempts to revive a 2015 deal with world powers that limited Iran’s nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief. A deterioration in the economic situation could increase the urgency in Iran to reach an agreement, but the nation has so far stuck to its demands.

“The Iranian government has been planning its annual budget in expectation of rising oil revenues and possibly sanctions relief,” Kalb said. “Because either now seems unlikely, I wouldn’t be surprised to see austerity measures and snap decisions to cut social spending in the near future.”

CNN’s Mostafa Salem contributed to this report.

The summary

Israel confirms first case of monkeypox virus

Israeli health authorities confirmed on Saturday that the country’s first case of monkeypox was detected in Tel Aviv. The Health Ministry reported that a man admitted to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv with symptoms of monkeypox tested positive for the disease on Saturday.

  • Background: Hospital officials said the patient had recently returned from Western Europe when he arrived in the emergency room on Friday. He has been quarantined since suspicion of monkeypox emerged and remains in good condition, they said.
  • Why is this important: The World Health Organization describes monkeypox as a rare viral disease whose symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, as well as a rash and skin lesions. He said there were at least 80 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide and at least 50 under investigation.

Israeli Arab lawmaker returns to coalition days after resigning

Lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi returned to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition government on Sunday, days after her dramatic resignation left the Israeli leader in charge of a minority government.

  • Background: She resigned Thursday with a letter listing numerous complaints about the government’s treatment of Israel’s Arab community. The move left Bennett with the support of just 59 members of the 120-member parliament, the Knesset. Rinawie Zoabi said on Sunday she was under “massive pressure” from Arab mayors to change her mind about stepping down.
  • Why is this important: His return gives Bennett the support of 60 Knesset members. The resignation did not automatically overthrow the government, but it increased the chances that the opposition would be able to dissolve parliament and force new elections.

Iran’s president swears revenge after Revolutionary Guard colonel’s assassination

A colonel in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has been killed in a rare assassination in Tehran, the elite corps said on Sunday. President Ebrahim Raisi has sworn to avenge his death.

  • Background: Two people on motorbikes opened fire on Colonel Sayad Khodai on Sunday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. At least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed since 2010 in incidents that allegedly targeted Iran’s nuclear program.
  • why is it important: No one has so far claimed responsibility for the colonel’s murder. But his death is raising tensions as negotiators scramble to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Talks have stalled since March over Iran’s pending demand that the United States remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Around the region

Dubai’s take on the popular Real Housewives reality franchise caused a stir on social media after its trailer aired on Bravo TV over the weekend.

The show will begin on June 1 and will chronicle the lavish lifestyles of six housewives, representing the city’s diversity, including Arab, Western and African women. The women are shown taking part in Dubai’s bustling nightlife, doing photo shoots in the desert and doing yoga on the man-made Palm Island.

But the show’s seemingly narrow portrayal of women in Dubai has ruffled some feathers locally.

Majid Al Amri, a Twitter user, denounced the portrayal of Dubai women as “gold diggers” who “wear bikinis on the beaches, using the meanest language you can think of”. 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 step on our morals and values.”

One user asked how authorities allowed the show to be filmed in the city, and several called on the government to shut it down. Others called for the show to be rebranded as “Real Expatriate Housewives of Dubai”.

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, of which nearly 90% of the population is made up of foreigners.

One user pointed out that the show does not depict Emirati women but expats, and “this is what they look like and how they dress,” he said.

Sara Al Madani, one of the show’s “housewives”, is Emirati. She is known as a socialite, having hosted a ‘Great Gatsby’ themed birthday party for top footballer Karim Benzema in 2019, but she is also known locally as a successful businesswoman.

In an apparent response to the controversy, Al Madani said on Instagram, “it’s a judgment given on no factual knowledge”, adding that it will help break Western stereotypes about the Arab world. “Besides, you haven’t seen the show yet!!!!!!”

By Mohamed Abdelbary

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Why Iranians Are Taking to the Streets Again

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