As we predicted last week, protests have continued across multiple Iranian cities through the weekend fueled by general dissatisfaction over a collapsing economy, runaway inflation, and a sharp hike in prices on imported products, all of which has made life miserable for many Iranian citizens.
However, it is unclear the extent and frequency of the protests as multiple international reports have called the protests, now in their sixth day, "scattered" and sporadic.
With pressures continuing to mount ahead of renewed US sanctions set to snap back into place on Monday — the first wave of which will primarily target automobiles, currency, and gold — there are new unconfirmed reports of deaths after protesters clashed with police.
Demonstrations involving hundreds in each location were reported over the weekend in the nation's capital, Tehran, and in the cities of Karaj, Shiraz, Mashhad, Isfahan, and Qom — the latter city especially notable given it's considered by Shia Islam to be the holiest city in Iran.
US state-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that a man was shot and killed on Saturday during a protest in Karaj, west of Tehran, citing Iran's semi-official Fars. Details remain sparse, but the man was reportedly fired at by an unidentifiable assailant in a passing car. The same report included mention of about 20 protesters in Karaj detained by security forces.
And on Sunday unverified reports on social media, mostly from opposition activist accounts, say heavy clashes continuing in the cities of Karaj and Qom have resulted in multiple deaths.
There are now too many #IranProtests 2 post on each 1 of them. Readers should visit the Twitter feed and C by themselves that they aren't sporadic as #Reuters describe them. They are small but many and everywhere. Men & women are more and more courageous in expressing themselves— Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) August 4, 2018
However, there are conflicting accounts regarding the actual intensity and momentum of the protests, with activist along with a number of MEK-linked accounts (the controversial Iranian opposition group in exile, "Mujahideen e Khalq") claiming that deliberate power outages and state blockage of the internet have prevented more footage and images depicting oppression from riot police and security services from reaching the outside world.
#BREAKING: Security forces of #Iran's Islamic Regime have not only cut the telephone lines & blocked Internet in #Zanjan rather they have cut the electricity in the city at 22:00 local time in-order to prevent protests against the regime.#IranProtests #IranRegimeChange pic.twitter.com/GW5ufLJcQ8— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) August 5, 2018
US funded and state-run broadcasters like VOA News and Radio Free Europe have also featured regular reporting of the protests over the past week, especially through Farsi language sources.
The Iranian people want to change this regime— mahsti25 (@mahsti25metana1) August 4, 2018
Cities: #Tehran, #Karaj, #Ghadrijan, #Isfahan, #Shahinshahr, #Kermanshah, #Varamin, #Bojnourd and ... protest against #Iran's regime#Winning #IranRegimeChange pic.twitter.com/JyDPgWPTI3
تجمع اعتراضی مغازه داران بازار مبل یافت آباد تهرانhttps://t.co/4WBgSEXGIN— VOA Farsi (@VOAIran) August 4, 2018
On Monday, the following sanctions will be re-imposed according to a US Treasury Department official statement:
“Sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of US dollar bank notes by the Government of Iran; sanctions on Iran’s trade in gold or precious metals; sanctions on the direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite, raw, or semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, coal, and software for integrating industrial processes; sanctions on significant transactions related to the purchase or sale of Iranian rials, or the maintenance of significant funds or accounts outside the territory of Iran denominated in the Iranian rial; sanctions on the purchase, subscription to, or facilitation of the issuance of Iranian sovereign debt; sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector.”
Furthermore, according to the US Treasury, this includes a ban on Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs, and notably (and dangerous for civilian air safety) export or re-export commercial airplanes as well as services and parts.
Likely, with the economic noose about to tighten even further on Monday, we could be witnessing just the beginning of more sustained unrest to come as external pressures make the Iranian economy implode.
And meanwhile at the White House...
Iran, and it’s economy, is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter - it is up to them!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018