The Iranian leadership has faced a week of protests that have turned increasingly bold in their willingness to confront the regime across numerous cities and provinces. The protests began last week after Iranian police killed a young woman who was visiting Tehran with her family. The protests began in the Kurdish region where she was from, but have since spread.
Top regime leaders are currently in New York for the annual UN General Assembly, leaving lower-echelon figures to handle the troubles at home. Iran has often used a somewhat elastic policy when dealing with discontent at home. Because the regime knows that a swath of the country hates the Islamic government, they tend to let people protest for a few days, letting the “steam” be released, after which they crack down.
The regime is aiming for a Friday crackdown this week as it seeks to mobilize counterprotests across the country. Iran has called the ongoing protests “riots” and says it will get people out to counter them.
The goal is to get this to happen during Friday prayers when more conservative pro-regime elements will emerge. This will be a test for the regime because if it can’t mobilize large numbers of men, it will appear weak. At the same time, Iranian media have said several members of the pro-government Basij militia have been killed in “riots” and media outlets praising the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for helping to confront the protests.
When does Iran plan to carry out these counter-protests?
Iran has tried to cut off Internet access, messaging services and other types of communication in order to stop the protests. It has used live fire against some protesters, but seems worried about exacerbating the situation by killing large numbers of people. Iran has used brutal tactics against demonstrators in the past, killing hundreds and even thousands of protesters in previous years.