Jan 1, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen
1 big thing: The Iran protests

The Iranian regime is increasingly cracking down on on demonstrations across the country, the N.Y. Times' Thomas Erdbrink reported today.

  • "On Monday in Tehran, the atmosphere was tense and security forces were out in large numbers."
  • "The protests are the biggest in the country since 2009, when a wave of demonstrations after the contested election of a hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, turned into a wider protest movement against Iran's leaders."
  • "This time, it is the failure of President Rouhani, a moderate, to deliver greater political changes and economic opportunity..."
  • "[Early] demonstrators initially chanted slogans about the weak economy. As the protests spread, they have taken on a far more political cast."
  • "Increasingly, they are being directed at Iran's entire political establishment. Some demonstrators have even called for the death of President Rouhani and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

The economic big picture, via Reuters:

  • "Rouhani may need to spend more government money on creating jobs, restrain inflation by supporting the rial exchange rate and do more to eradicate the widespread corruption which angers the protesters."
  • "But all of those actions would involve policy change."
  • "Rouhani has been pursuing a conservative budget policy to bring Iran's volatile state finances under control, part of his effort to create an attractive environment for foreign investors."
  • "Meanwhile, fighting corruption would risk a backlash from powerful interests hurt by a crackdown."

Trump weighed in on Twitter: "Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!"

How Israel sees it: Axios contributor Barak Ravid posted earlier today a breakdown of a classified Israeli foreign ministry report about the Iran protests.

  • Big picture: The Israeli Foreign Ministry report says the Iranian regime was surprised by the mass protest and is now trying to contain it through preventive arrests and crackdown on social media — while trying to avoid violent response against protesters.

According to the report:

  • The Iran protests started over economic issues but very fast "took a political and violent turn which included harsh anti-regime criticism over government spending on Syria, Lebanon and Yemen."
  • "For now the Iran protests are not a threat for the regime's survival but they weaken it, damage its legitimacy & if continue it can threaten its stability," the analysts wrote:
  • The level of radicalism and their presence in public "shows in our understanding that the barrier of fear for the Iranian citizen started breaking," per the report.

Go deeper: More from the Israeli report

2. What you missed
  1. Trump tweets on Pakistan: "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"
  2. The medical device tax is coming back in 2018, a consequence of the GOP's failure to pass an ACA repeal in 2017. More.
  3. Transgender recruits can enlist in the military starting today. Details.
  4. The NFL's Black Monday: "The Lions and Bears showed their coaches the door. Bruce Arians of the Cardinals found it himself. And Vance Joseph of the Broncos remained gainfully employed despite enduring the sort of season that doesn't go down well in Denver." Dive in.
  5. Artificial Intelligence can now scan millions of pictures taken by Google Street View to glean insights like income or voting patterns. What it learned.
Pic du jour
3. 1 fun thing: The silver screen in 2018

Movie trends to watch in 2018 from, the L.A. Times' Jeff Berkshire:

  • Diversity is coming: "From 'Black Panther' to 'A Wrinkle in Time,' 'Crazy Rich Asians' to 'Ocean's 8,' major studio movies with diverse ensembles are set to make a splash all year long."
  • Someone to watch: "[A]ctress Cynthia Erivo is set to make an unusually grand screen debut co-starring with Viola Davis in 'Widows,' the much-anticipated thriller from '12 Years a Slave' director Steve McQueen due out in the fall."
  • His big prediction: 2018 "could be the year the [studio comedy] genre makes a glorious comeback. From Tiffany Haddish to Kate McKinnon, the talent for a new crop of comedy all-stars is there."
Mike Allen