Nov 19, 2019

106 killed in Iran protests, human rights group says

Iranians gather around a charred police station while they protest the increase in oil prices in Isfahan, Iran. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

At least 106 people have been killed in Iran since protests over increased oil prices began last week, according to human rights group Amnesty International, which says the true death toll could be far higher.

The big picture: Iran was much quicker to use violent measures this time than during previous protests. The Iranian government also shut down the internet to prevent social media from further mobilizing protesters, per CNN.

Between the lines: "The regime feels under siege from U.S sanctions as well as protests which are challenging Iranian interests in Iraq and Lebanon. Leaders in Tehran fear the U.S. and its allies in the region would interpret any sign of Iranian compromise as weakness," Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group told Bloomberg.

  • The Iranian government continues to feel economic pressure from the U.S. sanctions, though protesters also blame the government for allowing corruption to run rampant, CNN reports.
  • The sanctions have "crippled Iran's economy, causing its currency to tank, prices to spiral, and trigger shortages in food and medical equipment," per CNN.
  • The Iranian government says the increase in oil prices will raise $2.55 billion per year to be used to subsidize the cost of living for 18 million families, Reuters reports.

What they're saying: The Trump administration has come out in support of the Iranian protesters.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, "The Iranian people will enjoy a better future when their government begins to respect basic human rights, abandons its revolutionary posture and its destabilizing activities in the region, and simply behaves like a normal nation. The choice is with the regime."
  • The White House also issued a statement saying the protests were spurred by Iran's decision to take funds away from the domestic economy in order to pay for its "fanatical" pursuit of nuclear weapons and to fund terrorist groups across the Middle East, Bloomberg writes.

Go deeper:

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In mass arrests, Iran detains eight accused of CIA ties

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hossein Salami at a pro-government demonstration on Nov. 25, 2019 in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran says it has arrested over 500 people in the aftermath of protests over gas prices, AFP reports, and the regime claimed on late Wednesday that eight of those detained are linked to the CIA.

The big picture: Iran cut Internet access for the vast majority of the country earlier this month after protests erupted on Nov. 15. Human rights group Freedom House told Axios' Joe Uchill that the blackout prevented global reporting on Iranian police abuses and stifled coordination between protestors.

Go deeperArrowNov 28, 2019

Death toll in Iraqi protests reaches 350 over last two months

Iraqi demonstrators gather as flames start consuming Iran's consulate in the southern city Najaf on Wednesday night. Photo: Hairda Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi security forces killed 27 anti-government protesters in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the past two months to 350, AP reports.

Why it matters: The country remains engulfed in its worst protests since 2016, with protesters calling for the government to resign over corruption and lack of government services. And as the violence continues to escalate, protesters are calling on the government to investigate.

Go deeperArrowNov 28, 2019

Iranian government meets growing protests with harsher crackdown

Protesters in Isfahan, Iran, on Nov. 16, 2019. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has likened the recent wave of protests to a “vast, very dangerous and planned conspiracy,” but, in fact, the demonstrations reflect growing shifts among the people of Iran and in neighboring countries.

The big picture: Khamenei and the rest of the regime have long pointed a finger abroad when under strain at home. But they're now facing greater pressure and responding with firmer tactics, including the use of lethal force under the cover of an internet blackout.

Go deeperArrowDec 2, 2019