Water shortages, economic and political fallout at home, increased military presence Syria and other countries have resulted in larger protests in Iran. The government cracked down violently against the protests in over 80 cities which have resulted in at least 21 deaths.
In early February, dozens of women were arrested for taking off their head scarves and protesting against mandatory veiling in Tehran.
Later the same month, police clashed with members of the Gonabadi Sufi order, which led to five deaths, according to Gonabadi activists, and hundreds arrested. In late March, Arabs staged protests in Khuzestan province after a the national TV excluded their community from a program about Iran’s ethnic diversity. Then in April, the security forces cracked down on water shortage protests in Isfahan province. Labour strikes in various cities across the country have also persisted.
Apart from these protests, the Islamic Republic has been facing numerous social-economic and political problems, including a rapidly depreciating currency, worsening droughts and deepening military involvement in Syria. At the same time, the government has not been able to alleviate many of the root causes of these issues.
It is amid these heightened tensions that the possibility of a coup against the current government, whose term expires in 2021, has arisen. There are already some signs that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) could be moving in that direction if Ayatollah Khamenei orders them to do so.
There is a growing consensus among Iranian political elites who believe implementing radical reforms is the only solution to these crises. But reforms seem very unlikely since Iran’s dual political structure is in deadlock.
The elected bodies of the regime, including the president and the parliament are incapable of creating any meaningful change because their powers are limited by the system in place. At the same time, the unelected bodies, including the supreme leader, the judiciary, and security forces, which enjoy vast political powers, believe that it is the government’s incompetency that is causing the current problems.
There is talk among Iran’s hardliners that having a military president under the control of supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei would solve all of their domestic and economic issues.
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