Iran shaken again by protest

Hot shot for the Iranian regime. Protests have been spreading for five days in many Iranian cities against water and electricity cuts. If the social networks multiply the videos showing nocturnal parades of thousands of people scolding the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, it is difficult to know the exact number demonstrators , in the absence of official scores.

State television has however acknowledged, a rare occurrence, that “dozens of people” had demonstrated eight days ago in Tehran against the power cuts, shouting slogans “in violation of standards”, according to the official formula designating criticism against the regime. The police on motorcycles were deployed.

The responsibility of the dam mafia It is especially in the province of Khuzestan , in the southwest, that the movement is concentrated. As temperatures recently rose to 50 ° C, demonstrators are protesting against water shortages. Three people were killed in this province and a fourth during riots in the neighboring province of Lorestan, according to official media.

A movement that may gain momentum and has enough to worry the regime, as the subjects of discontent are numerous in Iran. The country, where the Covid – 13 is also wreaking havoc, is facing inflation, youth unemployment, corruption, the deficiency of public services which give rise to recurring episodes of protests. is based on self-sufficiency and the distribution of oil revenues, ”recalls Clément Therme, associate researcher at the European University Institute in Florence. This quest for self-sufficiency, via irrigation and hydroelectric production, made the fortunes of construction companies linked to the Guardians of the Revolution, nicknamed “the mafia of dams,” but these projects have created water shortages for the region. population of Khuzestan. This region is all the more sensitive for the regime as it is from there that the Islamic revolution started in 50, recalls Clément Therme .

The regime is not threatened “These are significant demonstrations, reflecting the country’s structural problems, particularly in infrastructure, but which, for the moment, are not likely to destabilize the regime which has become an expert in repression, Internet shutdown, etc. Power is also trying to defuse anger by recognizing that grievances are legitimate, that they try to resolve problems and by sending emissaries, ”said Sanam Vakil, regional specialist at the benchmark Chatham House think tank.

Can this wave of protest be compared to the one which, end 1979 – beginning 2018, had shaken the regime, or to that, less broad, of the fall 2019 and start 2020 ? “Each wave has its own dynamic and we cannot therefore compare the current one to the previous ones, even if certain reasons are recurrent. In fact, protest in the street, sometimes violent, is now part of everyday life in Iran ”, concludes Sanam Vakil.

This renewed social tension is all the more unwelcome for the regime that it is engaged in a transition to the top of the State, with the entry into office on Tuesday of the president elected in June, Ebrahim Raïssi, and that, above all, he is negotiating with the great powers to re-establish the crucial treaty known as “JCPoA”. The latter provides for an easing of international sanctions in exchange for the verifiable freezing of the Iranian nuclear program suspected of leading to the production of atomic bombs. A resurrection of this agreement, from which the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2017, is proving anything but fluid.