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Iran is permanently on the verge of a revolution

The Iranian regime has resorted to various crackdowns to suppress the recent protests.
The regime deployed brute force through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and volunteer militia organization Basij. Its forces fired at protestors, killing young people, and arrested many innocents, including more than 1,000 university students.
The Iranian leadership immediately cut off modes of communication, such as the internet and mobile phones, in an attempt to prevent further mobilization against the regime — a lesson it learned from the widespread protests of 2009.
The regime claims victory and says that the protests have been defeated. But what is important to point out is that, even if the regime succeeds at suppressing these protests, the deep anger shared by millions of Iranians will continue to simmer under the surface. Any flashpoint could again turn their frustrations and anger against the regime into a conflagration; nationwide protests that could ultimately endanger the ruling mullahs’ hold on power.
There are several reasons why Iran will always be on the verge of a revolution under the current regime. Every time the regime cracks down on protests, it does not address people’s underlying concerns. These fundamental problems can be categorized into several sectors.
First, the economic difficulties that ordinary Iranian people suffer from are clearly evident in the country’s statistics. The rate of unemployment among young people is high, even though many are highly educated and skilled. According to Iran’s Central Bank, inflation has soared back to 10 percent, while the cost of everyday foods has increased by over 35 percent.
While the monthly salary of a teacher hovers at around $300, the expenses for a four-person family in an average neighborhood (food, rent, utilities) is over 88 million Rials or about $2,500, making it more expensive than the cost of living in some Western countries, including some US states.
It is worth noting that we are talking about a nation which is one of the wealthiest in the world when it comes to natural resources. Iran has the second and fourth-largest oil and gas reserves in the world respectively. It also enjoys high levels of exports in chemicals, plastics, fruits, ceramic products and metals.
Even if the regime succeeds at suppressing protests, the deep anger shared by millions of Iranians will continue to simmer under the surface and any flashpoint could again turn their frustrations into nationwide demonstrations that could endanger the rulers’ hold on power.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The Iranian regime does not appear to be concerned about the financial needs and economic difficulties of its citizens. Instead, it is focused on supporting, financing, arming and training terrorist-designated groups in the region — militias that advance the ruling mullahs’ objectives, as well as those of dictators such as Bashar Assad. 
The regime sent a message to the international community, as well as promising the Iranian people, that a nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions would benefit the ordinary people of Iran. Nevertheless, the economic situation of the ordinary people continues to deteriorate since the 2015 nuclear deal was struck because the regime is hemorrhaging billions of dollars on its proxies. The beneficiaries of the extra revenue are the IRGC, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and loyalists to the regime.
While the overwhelming majority of the people are suffering economically, the regime has significantly increased the budget of the IRGC and its affiliates such as the Quds Force, as well as investing in its ballistic missile program. 
Another reason behind the Iranian people’s financial suffering is structural and widespread corruption at the top. There exists no rule of law to hold the gilded circle of the regime’s leaders accountable for stealing the wealth of the nation.
It is also important to point out that the people’s economic suffering is not the only reason behind these protests. Other reasons include general disaffection with the regime’s political establishment when it comes to human rights abuses; suppression of freedom of speech, press and assembly; and a lack of rule of law and justice.
This is evident because some of the protesters chanted against Khamenei and his administration, saying: “Islamic Revolution was our mistake”, “Down with Rouhani” and “Death to Rouhani”.
The Iranian regime should be cognizant of the fact that these protests will not totally disappear. They can resurface at any time and have the potential to quickly turn into nationwide demonstrations, making it impossible for the IRGC to subdue them, no matter how powerful the regime’s forces are. These kinds of protests can one day mark the end of the regime if it doesn’t address its people’s demands.
The Iranian regime has made the country’s society like a tinder-dry forest that only needs a spark for it to burst into flames.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business.
Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh