Iran rocked by new protests as economy heads for collapse

Iranian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in central Tehran on June 25. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Iran rocked by new protests as economy heads for collapse

  • Hundreds chant “death to the dictator" at industrial complex
  • Rial plunges ahead of US sanctions

LONDON: Iran faced fresh warnings over human rights abuses on Tuesday as its economic crisis worsened and hundreds of protesters took to the streets.
Demonstrations spread to the historic city of Isfahan, with protesters demanding an end to the Iranian regime's costly interference in the affairs of neighboring countries in the region.
At least 29 people have been arrested on vague charges of “economic disruption,” and some face the death penalty.
Signs of further unrest emerged on Tuesday as shopkeepers and other workers went on strike in protest at the decline of Iran’s currency.
“In recent weeks and months we’ve had many protests,” Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesman for the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group, told Arab News. “Human rights are suffering … and every day they suffer more. Iran is amongst the biggest violators of human rights in the world today.”
He said the recent arrests were unlikely to have targeted the corrupt officials who occupy the “inner circles” of Iranian public life. The arrests serve two purposes, he said — to suggest the Iranian government is acting to stamp out “huge corruption,” and to instill fear in the public. “There are people who have been executed for economic corruption. But … the trials are not public so nobody knows that what the authorities are claiming is true.
“From the authorities’ view, these death sentences are more important as instruments of intimidation and spreading fear. If they really want to go after the corruption, they will be in deep trouble because the corruption is at the highest levels.”
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh also said the reasons for Iran’s economic crises go to the top of government. “The Iranian regime’s financial corruption, misuse of public funds, the widespread banking crisis, and the hemorrhaging of billions of dollars … on militia and terror groups are among the major reasons behind the present currency and economic crises,” he said.
Protests in Isfahan In Isfahan, striking shopkeepers, farmers and truck drivers were joined by other citizens in the Amir-Kabir industrial complex in New Shapur, according to Iranian activists.
Video footage showed hundreds of protesters shouting: “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, my soul is Iran’s redemption.” The slogan refers to Tehran’s costly military adventures in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, at the expense of the domestic economy.



Amiry-Moghaddam urged the world to do more to address the human rights situation, which he said was a result of a regime looking to cling on to power. “The main reason for people suffering is the regime: There is a lack of accountability and huge corruption … and use of violence to keep power.”
The slogan has been repeated at a series of protests that started at the end of last year. It refers to the regime’s expenditure on the regional military interventions instead of using the funds to tackle the country’s economic woes. 
In December and January widespread protests against economic conditions shook the country. At least 25 protesters were killed and nearly 5,000 arrested in a brutal response by the security forces. 
Last month, protesters clashed with police outside parliament in Tehran in three days of protests sparked by the plunging rial.
On June 25, a strike shut down the stalls of the Grand Bazaar in Tehran and several other markets. 
Meanwhile, a truck drivers’ strike entered its eighth day in cities across the country, according to reports.
And railway workers in Tabriz, north-east Iran, protested on Monday after receiving no salary over the past four months, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
It reported that the workers had cut off the railway route, which connects Tabriz with the rest of the provinces.
Activists on Tuesday continued to publish pictures showing an intense presence of security forces and police in Tehran.


War on militants ‘won’t end unless West tackles root causes’

Daesh militants wave flags on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq. (AP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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War on militants ‘won’t end unless West tackles root causes’

  • Driven from lands it once held sway over in Syria and Iraq, Daesh has returned to its origins as an underground militant outfit
  • “Beyond the tactical victories on the ground, the current strategy is failing”

WASHINGTON: Western powers fighting militant groups around the globe are condemned to a never-ending battle if they only tackle the symptoms and not the underlying causes of militant insurgency, experts say.

“Beyond the tactical victories on the ground, the current strategy is failing,” said Katherine Zimmerman, who wrote a recent report for the American Enterprise Institute.

“Every soldier and intelligence analyst that has worked on this problem understands what is happening,” Zimmerman told AFP.

“They understand that what they are doing is a temporary solution. It’s ending the immediate threat but not stabilizing or moving us forward. The problem comes down to policy and politics,” she noted.

“It’s easy to say, ‘We’re going to kill the person responsible for making the bomb.’ It is much more difficult to say that our partner government has disenfranchised this group and it’s one of the reasons why this person joins the terrorist group. And now he is the bomb maker.”

Driven from lands it once held sway over in Syria and Iraq, Daesh has returned to its origins as an underground militant outfit because the conditions that spawned it — a deep discontent among most Iraqis and Syrians — have persisted, experts say.

“The West is on the road to winning all the battles and losing the war,” warned Zimmerman.

In a report last month on the resurgence of Daesh as a clandestine guerrilla group, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that while the US and allied governments have weakened some groups like Daesh, “many of the underlying causes have not been adequately addressed.”

Those root causes include a “fragile state with weak or ineffective governing institutions” in areas affected by militant activity, where the extremists can establish a sanctuary, the CSIS experts said.

They took maps showing areas where Al-Qaeda and Daesh were active and compared them to maps displaying “government effectiveness,” based on World Bank statistics.

The result was clear: Most of the countries where the insurgents are active — Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia — are also in the bottom 10 percent for government effectiveness.

At a conference this week in Washington, retired Marine Gen. John Allen — who once commanded US forces in Afghanistan and now heads the prestigious Brookings Institution — said the West had to get ahead of the issue and ask, “Where should we be looking for the next problems?”

“We should spend a great deal more time looking at those areas that are in fragile or failing states,” said Allen, who also served as presidential envoy to the international coalition battling Daesh.

“We have to recognize the hotspots where the human condition prompts the radicalization of large sectors of the population,” he added.

“Often we join the conversation when the process of radicalization has been in place for quite a long time.”

Allen noted that the problem is “a development issue, much more than a counter-terrorism issue.”