Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Monday, June 18, 2018 07:24:54 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Protests threaten Iran's ascendant role in the ME

photo by

In Iran, hundreds have been arrested as protests turned against the government

By
07th-Jan-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

The Washington Post  :
The sudden eruption of political unrest in Iran has presented an unforeseen challenge to Tehran's ascendant influence in the Middle East, potentially threatening Iran's claims to regional hegemony just when it seemed to have secured an unassailable role.
The demonstrations, triggered mostly by popular disaffection with the stagnant economy, come at a time when Iran has been boasting about its newfound clout, won mainly by intervening in the region's many wars.
Iran's role as the Middle East's most consequential power has been cemented by its support for President Bashar Assad in Syria, for the Shiite militias in Iraq fighting the Islamic State, for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and for the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.
But the interventions have been costly and, as the demonstrations have revealed, unpopular - at least with some Iranians.
"No Gaza, no Lebanon, our lives for Iran," the crowds chanted at one of the first demonstrations, a reference to Iranian support for the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza and for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"Leave Syria alone, think about us," and "Death to Hezbollah" are among the other slogans.
These are a reminder that Iran's power plays in the region have come at a price, according to Mohamad Bazzi, a professor of journalism at New York University who is writing a book about Iran's role in the region and its rivalry with Saudi Arabia.
"For the past few months, if not years, Iran has been viewed as ascendant. They've been, quote, winning in the Middle East," he said. "And now we find out Iranians don't approve of their government spending all this money in places like Lebanon and Syria."
With anti-government protests appearing to fade Thursday, there is no reason to anticipate any immediate changes to Iranian policies, either foreign or domestic. For a second straight day, the authorities organized pro-government demonstrations in numerous Iranian cities, seeking to underline the message that the anti-government protesters represented only a tiny minority of Iranians and had been instigated by Iran's foreign enemies: notably the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The spread of the anti-government protests over the past week nonetheless suggest a level of domestic unhappiness that calls into question whether Tehran's regional ambitions can be sustained, said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics.
"Before the protests, you had this dominant narrative that Iran is unstoppable, Iran is undefeatable, Iran is as solid as a rock," he said. "The protests have undermined the posture of the Islamic Republic in the region, as the unrivaled superpower."
"Thousands of protesters have exposed a major rupture in Iranian society, not just between reformists and ultraconservatives but between a critical segment of Iranian public opinion and the leadership," he said. "This is really why this particular moment matters a great deal."
Exactly how much Iran has spent on its foreign interventions is unknown, said Sanam Vakil, who studies Iran at London's Chatham House think tank. One of the triggers for the demonstrations, she said, appears to have been the recent unveiling of the country's 2018 budget by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. It featured, among other unpopular items, a big jump in funding for the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to about around $8 billion - almost two-thirds of the defense budget, according to Iranian news reports.
The IRGC oversees the Quds Force, labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, which has overall responsibility for promoting Iran's vision of revolutionary Shiite Islam in the region. The group is commanded by the legendary warrior Qassem Soleimani, who has repeatedly been pictured at the front lines of the region's wars in photographs on Instagram and Twitter. This strategic portrayal broadcasts Iranian influence on the outcome of battles from Aleppo in Syria to the small town of Jurf al-Sakhar south of Baghdad.
The IRGC also controls extensive business interests that amplify its income while obscuring the true cost of Iran's foreign interventions, Vakil said. "A lot of money is spent that is not accountable. It's a black box and the government doesn't publicize it."
The budget featured big sums for some of Iran's religious foundations, and the protests appeared to be rooted as much in resentment over local issues, such as corruption and income inequality, as in specific concerns about the country's foreign interventions.
But there is no question that Iran's expenditure of billions of dollars on other countries' wars clashes with the reality of dwindling living standards in Iran, said Alireza Nader of the Rand Corp.
"They're completely overstretched," he said of the Iranian government. "On the surface they seem to be doing pretty well and winning these conflicts, but they're spending money they don't have."
Iran's leadership has until now seemed oblivious to any potential contradiction between its role in fighting the region's wars and its standing with ordinary citizens. Rather, leaders have repeatedly trumpeted the gains they have made.

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Eid Mubarak


EID UL FITR is an important religious event celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The ...

Cricket »

History-making Afghanistan get baptism of fire in Test cricket


AFP, Bangalore :Afghanistan were handed a bruising introduction to Test cricket by India on Thursday as they capped their astonishing rise from war and refugee camps to joining the sport's elite.Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai called it a "very proud moment" as he strode onto the field at Bangalore's M. Chinnaswamy ...

Football »

Orlando City midfielder Josue Colman kicks the ball away from Montreal Impact defender Rod Fanni during the second half of an MLS soccer match on Wednesday in Montreal.


Football »

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (center) and the former German national soccer team player and integration commissioner of the German soccer association, Cacau (right) attend a women soccer training session at a soccer club in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday.


International »

World can `sleep well` after North Korea summit: Trump


A jubilant-sounding President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that his "deal" with Kim Jong Un has ended the North Korean nuclear threat, as his top diplomat said he hoped to see "major disarmament" of the country by 2020.Despite the lack of detail, or binding terms in the joint statement agreed with ...

International »

UN rights office calls for int’l probe in Kashmir


AP, Geneva :The U.N. human rights chief called Thursday for an independent, international investigation into reports of rights violations in the disputed region of Kashmir, laying blame for civilian deaths and injuries on the actions of both India and Pakistan.In its first report on the region, the office of Zeid ...

City »

Air Chief adorned with Air Marshal rank badge


A ceremony marking the adorning of rank badge of new Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat was held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Thursday.In the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Mohammad Shafiul Huq and Chief of Naval Staff ...

Entertainment »

Sylvester Stallone under probe for sexual assault


Los Angeles prosecutors said on Wednesday that their sex crimes team was reviewing a case against Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone. Los Angeles District Attorney's office spokesman Greg Risling did not give details but said the case was presented by police in the California beach city of Santa Monica.Representatives for Stallone, ...

Editorial »

Pay the workers immediately, let them celebrate the Eid


NEWS media reported that nearly 40 percent of the garment factories, most of which are small and not members of any trade bodies like the BGMEA or the BKMEA, are yet to pay the workers' salaries or festival bonus although Eid-ul-Fitr is knocking at the door. Most of the 4.4 ...

International »

N Korean state media hails Kim-Trump summit success


Reuters, Seoul  :US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were splashed across North Korea's official party newspaper on Wednesday as state media hailed Tuesday's historic summit between the two men.The North's state media framed Tuesday's summit as a win for Pyongyang as it listed concessions made ...

Entertainment »

Secrets of Punam Priyam`s success


Entertainment Report :Punam Priyam is a popular media personality in Bangladesh. She is an anchor, producer and writer. In an interview with The New Nation, she has shared her life story and her views on different professional and personal issues. Details below:1. In our male dominated society men are still ...

Cricket »

Rahane says 'ruthless' India will not take Afghans lightly


AFP, Bangalore :Top-ranked India will be "ruthless" and not take Afghanistan lightly when they make their Test debut in Bangalore, skipper Ajinkya Rahane said Wednesday.It will be a historic moment for Asghar Stanikzai's team when they step out on Thursday for their maiden five-day outing against the world's number one ...

City »

Railway Minister Majibul Huq visited Kamalapur Railway Station in the city on Wednesday to witness the Eid journey of home-bound passengers.


Editorial »

Take urgent steps to prevent further landslides in hill region


AT least 11 people have been killed in separate incidents of landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Rangamati and Cox's Bazar. Among the deceased, 10 were killed in Naniarchar upazila of Rangamati and one in Maheshkhali upazila of Cox's Bazar, as per a local daily report.In Naniarchar, landslides in Boro ...

Entertainment »

Chitrangda Singh wears the producer's hat!


Recently, 'Soorma' trailer starring Diljit Dosanjh and Taapsee Pannu in lead roles was released. While actress Chitrangda Singh who is been staying away from onscreen for a while has now overtaken the role of a producer for the movie, 'Soorma'. After Anushka Sharma and Priyanka Chopra trying their hands as ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news