Today, universities in Tehran will commemorate Iran’s annual Student Day.
After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on November 15 that fuel prices would at least double, thousands angrily took to the streets in all but two of Iran’s provinces, protesting rising costs of living. Indeed, inflation has surpassed 35% and wages are struggling to keep up with price hikes. Per Amnesty International, more than 200 protesters have been killed with another 7,000 detained during the ongoing protests.
Fearful that today’s student event would again spark brazen anti-regime demonstrations, security forces arrested a number of protest leaders last week. Authorities claimed this move ‘destroyed’ an anti-government network planning to disrupt today’s events.
Iran’s economy continues to struggle, largely as a result of strict US sanctions. In October, the IMF forecast that the country’s GDP would contract by 9.5% by the end of 2019, while youth unemployment stands at 26%—leaving some eight million young people out of work with the time to protest. President Rouhani is undoubtedly feeling the pressure.
Expect Tehran to take a firm line with demonstrators today and going forward, ramping up arrests and increasing security forces in major cities amid violent clashes with protesters.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.