Iranians recently took to the streets to protest economic conditions in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s city of birth. The rare protests would eventually spread to several cities across Iran, and grievances would also be directed at the political establishment, as well as the country’s involvement in Syria and elsewhere in the region. Yet, unlike the mass protests following the 2009 elections, the urban middle class in Tehran by and large stayed home, and the country’s political system appears to be safely intact for the time being. What was different this time? How deeply felt are the concerns? What is the appropriate response from the U.S.? President Trump’s initial reaction was criticized—to some Iranians, U.S. advocacy is seen as a “kiss of death” that may discredit their cause. However, President Obama was also criticized for his tepid response to the 2009 protests. Should the U.S. comment at all? Lastly, what will the impact of the protests be on Iran’s foreign policy and the region?
Join us for a discussion with Trita Parsi on Iran at this crucial juncture.