Iran Update: 19 July, 2020

Iran is a nation contending with an almost unprecedented amount of challenges at present. COVID-19, US economic sanctions, and the ongoing proxy war between Iran and Israel have come together to cast a cloud of uncertainty over Iran. Spontaneous waves of protests have broken out across Iran at various times in recent years. The mitigating factor has almost always been economic hardship brought on by either US sanctions, or mismanagement by the Iranian government. After last November’s violent anti-government protests, the regime has been working to avoid a repeat.

On Wednesday and Thursday protests broke out in the southwestern city of Behbahan with crowds angry about the weak condition of the Iranian economy gathering. The protests and demonstrations apparently spread to other areas in southwest Iran. Police used tear gas to disperse protesters on Thursday, and internet outages in that part of Iran were detected. Iranian police have warned that they will deal ‘decisively’ with further protests. Judging by reports from the area, southwestern Iran was quiet over the weekend. It remains to be seen if the trend will continue through the upcoming week.

This weekend saw more mysterious and destructive fires occur at industrial, and energy facilities in Iran. A major fire erupted at a cellophane printing plant in Tabriz on Sunday. Firefighters on scene have reported that flammable liquids in the plant caught fire. The blaze is now contained. There was also an explosion at a power plant in the central Iranian province of Isfahan on Sunday. IRNA, the state news agency, claims the cause of the fire was faulty equipment. Earlier in the weekend an oil pipeline went up in flames in the Ahvaz region.

As far as who might be responsible for the wave of explosions and fires, it remains unknown. Although some Arab separatist groups inside of Iran have claimed responsibility for a handful of incidents, Tehran has not confirmed their involvement. For what it is worth, the regime continues to consider Israel to be the source of the sabotage. Saudi Arabia is also considered a possibility, and of course, the Great Satan (Iran’s term for the United States) is thought to be involved to some extent.

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