November 10, 2020 | Journal of International Affairs

Evolution Toward Revolution: The Development of Street Protests In The Islamic Republic of Iran

November 10, 2020 | Journal of International Affairs

Evolution Toward Revolution: The Development of Street Protests In The Islamic Republic of Iran

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Abstract

Protests are a regular feature of life in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Using street power to push for incremental change or voice discontent with government policy, major protests in Iran have been closely identified with the country’s reform movement. But from 2017 to the present, we posit that the aim of protests has drifted from reform towards revolution. We use the observable trend of change in geography, demography, violence levels, organization/cohesion, and slogans of protests to argue that the 2017 event was a change point: a structural break from reform to revolution. Drawing on the scholarship of Ted Robert Gurr and Alexis de Tocqueville on expectations for change and rebellion, we trace the structural and domestic political conditions that existed before 2017, and subsequently examine the five factors. We conclude with the impact this will have on future street protests in Iran and flashpoints for change.

Saeed Ghasseminejad is a senior Iran and financial economics advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at FDD where he focuses on Iranian security and political issues. Eliora Katz was formerly a research analyst at FDD where her work concentrated on the politics and national security of Iran and Israel. Follow Saeed on Twitter @SGhasseminejad. FDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues. 

Issues:

Iran Iran Human Rights Iran Politics and Economy