Israel to blame for Iran’s protests?

Israel to blame for Iran’s protests?
Iran has accused a CIA official and Israeli Mossad for the week-long protests taking place across the region. The anti-government protests are among the largest the nation has..

Iran has accused a CIA official and Israeli Mossad for the week-long protests taking place across the region. The anti-government protests are among the largest the nation has seen in close to a decade and have been considered one of the biggest challenges to Tehran.

Background

After the Iranian revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini came into power. He did not like Israel’s friendly equation with the previous regime. He declared that Israel was an enemy to Islam.

The already tense relations further deteriorated during the 90s. The two nations started fighting in proxy wars against one another during the tenure of Mahmud Ahmedinijiad, the President of Iran from 2005 to 2013. In 2006, reports emerged that Iran had provided aid to Hezbollah fighters (a group that Israel considers a terrorist outfit) during the Lebanon War.

Israel is said to have carried out three specific airstrikes targeting Iranians during the Gaza conflict. The two nations have since blamed one another for terror attacks, assassination, cyberattacks and more.

In 2017, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said, "As long as the current regime exists, with the nuclear agreement or without it, Iran will continue to serve as the main threat to Israel's security.” In 2017, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel said that Iran is setting up sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce missiles. Netanyahu noted that Syria was being turned into a base of military entrenchment with the aim of attacking Israel.

Iranian economy

The economy of Iran is a mixed and transition economy with a large public sector. Some 60 percent of the economy is centrally planned. More than half the population in Iran is under the age of 35. However, nearly 40% of Iranians between the ages of 15 to 24 are unemployed.

 

Analysis

Massive anti-government protests began in Iran on December 28th, 2017 and have continued since. Tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in a bid to register their objection towards the economic conditions in the country. Food prices have nearly doubled in the recent months. Citizens have also expressed anger that the nuclear deal that has been signed did not result in an improvement in the standard of living in the country. Resentment has also been expressed about the money Tehran has fueled towards military conflicts occurring in different parts of the Middle East. The protests have turned violent and have resulted in the deaths of at least 22 people.

Iran has accused a CIA official and Israeli Mossad for the week-long protests taking place across the region. Iran's prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri has blamed a CIA agent (whose identity has not been divulged) as the "main projector" of deadly demonstrations. He said that this plot was instigated and plotted by the CIA for four years and was dubbed "Consequential Convergence Doctrine". He added that the CIA operative and an agent affiliated with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency were in charge of masterminding the unrest. He also alleged that Saudi Arabia was involved in financing the project.

In a video released online Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised what he called the bravery of the Iranian protesters seeking freedom and lambasted Iran’s “cruel regime” for spending billions of dollars “spreading hate.” “This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us,” he said. “But they won’t succeed.” However, Israel has denied any role in the protests. US President Donald Trump has also repeatedly praised Iranians for taking to the protests.

Saeed Leilaz, a Tehran-based analyst, said that Mr. Rouhani’s political rivals may have played a role in organizing the protests. He said, “There are more than three million jobless in Iran, and more than 35 percent of Iranians are under the poverty line. These are Rouhani’s problems, and could kill any government. I won’t be shocked if inflation hits 12 percent.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that if the protests do weaken the current regime in Iran, then Saudi Arabia, Israel and the USA will undoubtedly take advantage of that. However, experts note that the protests stemmed from economic anger and were not instigated by external factors. The regime should focus on measures to alleviate economic anxiety. If Iran does not find concrete evidence of American and Israeli involvement in the demonstrations, it would further instigate bad ties between the countries. 

Comments