Iran’s Economy in Trouble, Citizens Protest Across the Country
Monday, protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its Grand Bazaar on Monday, and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in apparent anger over the Islamic Republic’s troubled economy, months after similar demonstrations rocked the country.
The demonstration came a day after protests forced 2 major shopping centers for mobile phones and electronics to close in Tehran. It also signaled widespread unease beneath the surface in Iran in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
The protests as erupting after the Iranian rial dropped to 90,000 to the USD on the country’s black market, despite government attempts to control the currency.
The head of Iran’s Chamber of Guilds, Ali Fazeli, was quoted as saying the situation at the bazaar is calm.
Tehran’s sprawling Grand Bazaar has long been a center of conservatism in Iranian politics and remains an economic force within the country.
Bazaar families opposed the Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution that saw him replaced by the Shiite theocracy and elected officials.
At the end of last year, similar economic protests roiled Iran and spread to some 75 cities and towns, becoming the largest demonstrations in the country since its Y 2009 disputed presidential election. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 people arrested by authorities.
Analysts believe hard-liners likely encouraged the 1st protest that took place in Mashhad to weaken the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate cleric within Iran’s politics.
The protests then spiraled out of control, with people openly criticizing both President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
President Rouhani’s government has struggled with the economic problems, which have seen high unemployment.
A government-set exchange rate of 42,000 rials to $1.00 has quickly been surpassed in the black market. Monday, state television quoted Iranian Central Bank chief Valiollah Seif as saying the government plans to create a parallel market next week to combat the black market.
It now appears that the government is ready to “bow down to foreign threats and sit at the negotiation table,” according to one source.
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