It has been one week since protesters began taking to the streets of Iran. First they protested a failing economy and a corrupt government but as the days went on, bolder calls of “Death to Hezbollah” and the end to the reign of Khamenei could be heard. The government clamped down on the primary means of information dissemination: Twitter, Instagram and Telegram though some powerful images did manage to make it to the outside world. One particular image of a young woman standing on a electrical box and waving her white hijab on the end of a stick earned her the nickname “The Rosa Parks of Iran.” We have since learned that the photo was taken the day before the protests began in earnest but the message still resonated, with many supporters posting profile pictures of “Rosa” or a similar avatar.
On Wednesday, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard claimed to have quelled the protests by arresting those deemed as the main “troublemakers” and “dissidents.” Because of the lack of information getting out, it is impossible at this point to verify the numbers of those arrested or whether the protests have actually been silenced.
Wednesday also saw a rash of counter-protests in support of the government. Mostly middle aged men waved Iranian flags and signs in support of President Rouhani and the Supreme Leader. The true test of how strong the anti-government protests remain should come on Friday when and if access to Instagram and Telegram are restored. According to regional experts, most protests in Iran tend to happen after Friday prayers.
While European responses have stayed relatively restrained, President Trump issued a third tweet in direct support of the protesters, claiming they would “see great support from the U.S. at the appropriate time.” When the appropriate time might be or what that support would entail remains unclear. The timing could be tied in Trump’s mind to the looming deadline for a recertification of the Iran nuclear deal which happens every 90 days and is due again in mid-January. He also faces perhaps a deadline over whether to renew temporary waivers for US sanctions against Iran.