Expert voices

Expert Voices

Iranian government meets growing protests with harsher crackdown

protestors surround a burning motorcycle in a street intersection
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.

Expert Voices

Lebanon's economy on the brink as protests unite sectarian camps

a packed public square of protestors at night
Demonstrators in Beirut's Martyr's Square on Nov. 22. Photo: Patrick Baz/AFP via Getty Images

As Lebanon continues to be rocked by widespread protests — seemingly sparked in mid-October by uncontrolled wildfires and a proposed WhatsApp tax — the country faces increasing risk of economic collapse.

The big picture: The current crisis has been brewing for some time, and a descent into conflict is not out of the question. Lebanon has been an ally to the U.S. and Europe in its troubled neighborhood, but is struggling under threats from Iran-controlled Hezbollah, interference by Russia and China, and the world's highest proportion of refugees.