News Analysis: Iran likely to contain protests, frustrate U.S. hopes: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-11 00:20:35|Editor: Yang Yi
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by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Iran is expected to contain the ongoing protests that have been going on for a couple of weeks and thus frustrate the U.S. hopes for "time for change" in the Islamic republic, said Egyptian political experts.

Over the past week, protests erupted in a number of Iranian cities against the government's economic policies. Reports say that at least 20 people, including civilians and policemen, were killed and dozens wounded during violent clashes between protesters and security forces that arrested some 3,700 demonstrators so far.

"The Iranian ongoing protests and state of unrest will be contained by a government announcement of a series of economic and social procedures and policies in the country," said Medhat Hammad, professor of Iranian and Gulf studies at Egypt's Tanta University.

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed support for the Iranian protesters and said "it's time for change in Iran," while the U.S. House of Representatives has recently adopted a resolution supporting Iranian anti-government protesters and condemning the regime's crackdown on them.

"The U.S. position in favor of the ongoing unrest in Iran is natural as it reflects the U.S. desire to topple the Iranian regime, which confirms the U.S. conflict with and hostility to Iran," Hammad said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames foreigners, including the United States and Israel, for inciting the recent unrests in the Persian country, referring to them as "enemies."

The protests that erupted late December 2017 in Iran are believed to be mainly triggered by the economic reform austerity measures that led to high inflation rates and price hikes in some basic food commodities, amid a high unemployment rate that reached 12.4 percent in 2017, according to the country's official statistics.

Hammad said that the protests in Iran are "no surprise" and that they had been expected since 2009, stressing that the Iranian government will contain them through new domestic economic policies that would appeal to the masses.

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stressed that the ongoing protests were a chance rather than a crisis, which means that they were expected by the regime and they did not surprise the government," he explained, expecting economic measures to be announced while the Iranian foreign relations remain the same after the unrest settlement.

According to some experts, the United States is the No.1 beneficiary of the ongoing unrest in Iran, which is in constant conflict with Israel, number one regional ally of the United States, and Saudi Arabia, Trump's oil-rich Gulf ally.

Others believe that the United States keeps adding fuel to the Sunni-Shiite conflict to make sure it would make good arm deals with Saudi Arabia that seeks U.S. protection.

Mohamed Fayyad, Egyptian expert in Iranian affairs, said that Iran's unrest serves the United States the most and that Washington wants to market itself as sponsor of anti-government public movements.

"The U.S. administration attempts to use the conditions in Iran to enhance its internal position and promote its domestic image by claiming false success," Fayyad, also professor of Iranian studies at Tanta University, told Xinhua.

"It is true that the situation in Iran is critical, but not as much as some try to depict," he added, stressing that "the Iranian regime has sufficient political and security abilities to contain the situation."

The Iranian Shiite citizens are traditionally governed by two leaders, one politically and another spiritually, represented in the president and the supreme leader of the Islamic republic.

"The Iranian regime is likely to contain the current unrest not only due to its political and security control but also because of the greater influence of its spiritual leadership," said the expert, expecting Iran to "overcome the current crisis fast."

At the request of the United States, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting last Friday on Iran's unrest, while Trump is considering ripping up the nuclear deal signed with Iran during the time of former U.S. President Barack Obama and reimposing U.S. sanctions on the Persian country.

Mohamed Mohsen Abul-Nour, Egyptian researcher in Iranian affairs, expressed his belief that the U.S. support for the Iranian protestors gives them confidence and energy to keep them going.

Abul-Nour added that the support gives an excuse to the Iranian regime to accuse the protesters of being agents and traitors.

"In my opinion, they are spontaneous protests that are neither prearranged nor financed by any foreign states. Iran has to deal with this fact if it wants to overcome this current crisis and bend to the wind."