[January 6, 2018] Leadership is complex, difficult, and sometimes creates unexpected results. Such is the case with the theocratic government of Iran as they contemplate what to do about the growing number of antigovernment protesters showing their dissatisfaction. Is there a new Iranian revolution under way or is it something else?
That is what “experts” are asking themselves; will this uprising be different from the one in 2009? It is tempting to advocate for our favorite explanation on the causes of the protests rocking Iran. Most revolutions are driven by multiple issues and events … and the on-going disagreement between Iranian citizens and their government has never been more tense.
Is this new “revolution” intellectual and political like the one in 1979 or 2009? Or is it something else? These questions are important because the answer will determine how other countries may react. Interestingly, the protests are mostly in the smaller towns and cities; different from the others, so the comparison here is unwarranted.
The issue that makes the most sense is that the protests are about the socialist welfare state of Iran and its interventionists policies. The country’s Mullahs, because they are authoritarian, have driven the economy into a ditch. Classic socialism is on display for the world to see; high unemployment, heavy subsidization of food and fuel, military interventionism, etc.
“Iran’s military forces, active in several countries in the Middle East, saw their budget increase to $11 billion, a nearly 20 percent rise, he said. The budget for representatives of the supreme leader in universities was increased. An institute run by the hardline cleric Mohammad Taghi Meshbah-Yazdi was to receive eight times as much as a decade ago.” – Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times
With oil prices down, the Iranian economy is not doing so well. Even with President Obama infusing the country with billions of U.S. dollars, the expenditures of the Mullahs and international sanctions have taken a toll on the average citizen’s ability to live well. What we know now is that the newest annual government budget has cut back on subsidies to its citizens that goes to their personal purse.
Socialist governments are all the same when it comes to the economy. They require easy money to underwrite what they do. For Iran it has always been oil and international aid. Today, the Iranian economy is running on low but the spending habits of the government is unchanged.
Will these protests force a change in government policy? Will the protests become violent? These are questions that are unanswered at the moment but the never few weeks will give us insight into the role of the Mullah’s economy and what citizens will tolerate.
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