Iranian actress explains what’s different about latest protests in West, Iran
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The protests in Iran this month, with their chants of “Death to the dictator” and calls for president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s resignation were different from the days of the contested Green Revolution, when political opponents had to choose between the state or the street.
This time, though, supporters of the government and the president were united in their discontent. As well they should have been, because no administration has been able to offer a solution to the deep economic and political malaise that has beset the country for more than a decade.
For more than a year, Ahmadinejad’s government has been struggling to keep calm after a wave of protests, student strikes and demonstrations have spread to almost every aspect of life in this country that has long been known as Iran’s economic engine of the Arab world, but whose economy has faltered due to low energy and other natural resources.
It was not until March, following a wave of popular, antigovernment protests, that Ahmadinejad finally made his first public appearance in years. He was in Tehran to speak at an economic forum, with a large contingent of his security services, and he was surrounded by a throng of his supporters.
It is impossible to separate Ahmadinejad’s supporters from those who were protesting the way they wanted to protest, particularly after the recent arrests made by the authorities. Some of them were not from the government or the ruling Islamic movement, but were young people who had grown up in democratic Iran but who were unhappy about the way they had been treated by the ruling establishment.
The country, still heavily dependent on oil exports and international tourists, is in crisis. The government is struggling to manage the economy, which is now in the midst of a debt crisis triggered by the drop in oil prices, as well as a shortage of hard currency and an estimated $700 million dollars’ worth of unpaid bills by the state-owned companies that make up the economy.
It may not be long before the government has to resort to other options. The Islamic movement, which claims to have taken the country into reform through peaceful means but seems to have grown too powerful, is already talking about the possibility of protests, especially if Ahmadinejad’s term as president