What Started the 2018 Demonstrations in Iran?

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Understanding the 2018 Iran Uprising

In the final days of December, Iranians took to the streets in protest against the government and shouted, “Death to the dictator” (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and “Death to Rouhani” (the president). Through this first week of 2018, demonstrations have erupted in nearly every province in Iran.

92699842_m

The main cause for these demonstrations? The economic pain and desperation of the people. In the past six months, about 30 percent of our incoming prayer requests from Iran have been related to the economic situation. One of our viewers shared last week that she and her husband are so financially desperate that they were considering selling their three-month-old baby to human traffickers!

Basic Goods out of Reach for the People

In recent months, the price of some basic goods like dairy products, meat, eggs, and gas has risen sharply. For the past two years, many families in Iran had to cut their consumption of meat to once per month. Now they cannot even afford that. Forget meat; now they cannot afford milk, cheese, or eggs.

While the Corrupt Elite Enriches Itself

What makes the people’s pain worse and makes them even more angry and frustrated are the following realities:

The religious elite controls the economy. More than 85 percent of the economy is controlled by those in power (the clergy and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard). The people see this as the elite taking advantage of the common people so even though they are rich, they can be richer.

Corruption within the government continues freely. Every month the people hear news of large embezzlement by those within the government—but no arrests or accountability. While common people continue to suffer, those in power steal the oil income and store it in foreign banks. They steal instead of investing that money in the country’s economy because maybe they also see that their end is near.

The powerful live in luxurious abundance. Daily, the people see the elite living in luxury homes and driving luxury cars—more Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Maserati’s travel the streets in Tehran than in Beverly Hills.

More than a quarter of the country is unemployed. The unemployment stated by the government is 12 percent, but in reality, more than 25 percent are unemployed. Unemployment among young adults is as high as 40 percent. Noticeable segments of society in their 30s and even 40s are educated (often highly) but have no jobs—not even low-level jobs such as driving taxis. They still live with their parents, cannot find jobs, and cannot get married. They battle a hopelessness with deep depression that they often relieve temporarily with some addiction. Most families in Iran are impacted by addiction because at least one close family member (father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister) is addicted. Unemployment and addiction are prime causes for people being on the streets, the majority of these people being under 30 years old.

The children of the elite “inherit” the best paying jobs. The people have seen that those in power have the best paying jobs—and now the elite are passing on these jobs to their kids, a generation of spoiled children with no education. Children of the powerful receive a job without earning it while millions with education cannot make a living.

The Islamic government cares more for supporting regional allies than its own people. The people now see that the Islamic government has no heart for the suffering of its own but spends millions of dollars monthly to help Hezbollah in Lebanon and President Assad in Syria. They know that the government is spending large sums of money to take control of Yemen and Iraq. They were hoping that the $150 billion that Obama administration gave Iran’s government would benefit them, but as I predicted in 2015 and again in 2016, the windfall did not benefit them but was used instead to oppress them and persecute Christians even more.

What Can You Do?

Throughout this time of unrest, we have broadcast live every evening during prime time to share God’s heart and mind with the people. They are crying out in pain and looking for answers. Would you pray that millions will hear and receive God’s love and concern for their suffering?

In the next few days, I will be posting more on this issue. I will let you know what I expect will be the outcome of this mass demonstration, what the differences are between this uprising and the Green Movement of 2009, and yes, how this uprising will help Christians and the cause of Christ in Iran—at least for the short term.

If you wish to read more stories and stay up to date on issues in Iran and with our ministry at Iran Alive, please text “Iran” to 74784.


Related articles:

Erdbrink, Thomas. “Hard-Liners and Reformers Tapped Iranians’ Ire. Now, Both Are Protest Targets.” The New York Times, January 2, 2018, sec. Middle East.

Lister, Tim. “Protests Die down, but the Anger in Iran Won’t Go Away.” CNN. Accessed January 5, 2018.

Shariat, Hormoz. “Lifeline from Nuclear Deal Helps Iran Oppress Its Own People.” June 2, 2016.

Shariat, Hormoz. “The Nuclear Agreement with Iran: Is It a Good or a Bad Deal? (Part 2).” September 22, 2015.

President Rouhani’s Visit to the U.S. Represents No Real Change

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series 5 Things About Hassan Rouhani's Visit to the U.S.

President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the U.S., while historic, represents no real change in the Iranian government since the Supreme Leader and Islamic clergy rule and run the country.

In this short video, I discuss why President Rouhani is simply a different face on the same political system that has been in place in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.  Regardless of who is elected president, the simple fact is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, makes every high level policy decision and will never abdicate that power to anyone else until his replacement has been named, likely upon his own death.

Pray that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and truly lead a transformation of Iran unlike anything we have ever seen.

Rouhani Publicly Released 11 Political Prisoners Just Days Before His Visit

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series 5 Things About Hassan Rouhani's Visit to the U.S.

Rouhani publicly released 11 political prisoners just days before his visit to the U.S., but has released zero since then.

Nasrin Sotoudeh with her family after being released from prison
Nasrin Sotoudeh with her family after her release

Only days prior to his visit to the U.S. and subsequent U.N. address, President Hassan Rouhani ordered the release of 11 political prisoners.  8 women, including noted human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and 3 men were freed from prison or house arrest sentences stemming from anti-government activities.

I am certainly thankful for the release of these men and women, regardless of the motives behind this obvious public relations maneuver.  Without doubt, their families are celebrating this unexpected blessing, as they should. I know the many hundreds of other families with loved ones in Iranian prisons are fervently praying for similar news to come their way in the near future.  I am joining them in prayer for this outcome as well.

If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, however, I fear that these families may be in for a lengthy wait.  I truly pray that I am wrong.

What I do know is that the prisons are absolutely stuffed with offenders whose crimes are markedly similar to the 11 recently released.  This is not even beginning to consider our Christian brothers and sisters who are languishing in jail cells since their faith in Christ is viewed as a direct transgression against Islam and the government, since the two are not only inseparable, they are one and the same.

Please join me in praising the Lord for the release of the 11 prisoners on September 18.  Let us pray together that this is just the tip of the iceberg for many hundreds to follow in spite of what history seems to indicate.

Rouhani Gained the Upper Hand by Skipping Lunch with President Obama

Rouhani gained the upper hand by skipping lunch with President Obama and later receiving his phone call while leaving the country.

To a Westerner, both of these events may seem insipid or commonplace.

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his visit to the U.S.

President Rouhani simply explained, “A meeting between the two presidents needs some preparation, and since the ground was not prepared, this meeting did not take place.”  As a result, President Obama picked up the phone and called Rouhani since they were not able to meet in person.  This gesture exhibited both respect and hospitality from a Western point of view.

However, both events, which seem ostensibly harmless, were great PR plays by Rouhani to the Persian culture.

By skipping a planned appointment with President Obama, Rouhani illustrated his stature of importance to the people of Iran and the rest of the Middle East whose culture recognizes this as a display of power.  Rouhani is so mighty and dominant, that even the President of the United States of America does not get his time.

By calling President Rouhani as he was leaving the U.S., President Obama displayed an act of contrition and weakness in the eyes of the Persian culture.  In my native Iran, this is viewed as chasing after the person who is in the more dominant position.

Rouhani would never have extended such a gesture, as he would be subject to public emasculation and humiliation for bowing in this way.

Our opinions of a skipped lunch and the intentions of President Obama’s phone call are completely irrelevant.  President Hassan Rouhani left the United States with an important public relations victory on the largest stage Iran has been on in 34 years.

I wonder if President Obama is going to take Benjamin Netanyahu’s call…the one when he tells Obama to be wary of his new “friend.”