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NY Times credits Trump policy in Iran? That's odd?

Wait a fricken minute. Don't tell me that Lord Voldemort had a good idea? Bad people can't have good ideas. Only senile old guys who don't know what day of the week. Sorry...I'm feeling a little feisty this morning.

The important point is; I don't see these protests going anywhere except to empower the Gov to wack innocent people and place them under house arrest.

Which just goes to prove that it sucks here at home with all the systematic racism.

Attn Millennials and Gen Z! Spritzler Vacations is offering Tehran sightseeing tours starting this Thanksgiving. Have fun, sheik your booty!

Iran is aflame with protests. Times reporters help you understand what’s happening.

By David Leonhardt, NY Times

Ferocious dissent

Few independent journalists are working inside Iran today. But videos, emails and other information coming from inside the country suggest that Iran is experiencing its most significant protests in more than a decade.

The demonstrations began after a 22-year-old, Mahsa Amini, died in police custody on Sept. 16, having been arrested for violating Iran’s law requiring women to wear head scarves fully hiding their hair. This weekend, the protests spread to at least 80 cities, and demonstrators briefly seized control of a city in northwestern Iran. In response, the country’s security forces have opened fire on crowds.

In today’s newsletter, I’ll try to help you make sense of what’s going on.

Five main points

1. Iran’s government is again run by hard-liners.

In last year’s presidential election, the clerics who hold behind-the-scenes power in Iran disqualified nearly every candidate except for a hard-liner named Ebrahim Raisi. Since becoming president, Raisi has set out to reverse the legacy of his reformist predecessor, Hassan Rouhani.

“On multiple fronts, Raisi has ferociously swung the pendulum back to the kind of xenophobic policies and tone-deaf rhetoric witnessed during the Revolution’s early days,” Robin Wright wrote this weekend in The New Yorker. Among Raisi’s moves: calling for the police to strictly enforce the head scarf law, in a reversal of Rouhani’s policy.

Raisi has also taken a tougher line toward the U.S. In meetings connected with the United Nations gathering last week, for instance, he scoffed at the notion that Iran’s police were overly violent. “How many times in the United States, men and women are killed every day at the hands of law enforcement personnel,” he told journalists on Thursday.

As Wright described, “His voice rose so loudly and so often that it was frequently hard to hear the English translation through our headsets.”

2. The rise of hard-liners has contributed to growing desperation among young Iranians.

“The reason the younger generation is taking this kind of risk is because they feel they have nothing to lose, they have no hope for the future,” Ali Vaez, Iran director for the International Crisis Group, told The Times. (My colleagues Vivian Yee and Farnaz Fassihi went into more detail in this recent story.) Many Iranians understand they are taking existential risks by protesting, given the regime’s history of responding to past protests with mass arrests.

“I’m struck by the bravery of these young Iranians,” my colleague David Sanger, who has been covering Iran for decades, said. “And by the ferocity of their desire to get out from under the rule of this government.”

Protesters in the streets of Tehran on Wednesday.Associated Press

3. The economy plays a big role in the dissatisfaction.

In 2018, Donald Trump decided to pursue a high-risk, high-reward policy toward Iran. He exited a nuclear deal that Barack Obama had negotiated three years earlier, which had lifted many sanctions in exchange for Iran’s taking steps away from being able to build a nuclear weapon. Trump reimposed those sanctions and added new ones, betting that doing so would force Iran to accept a tougher deal and maybe even destabilize the government.

Over time, the sanctions — combined with Iran’s pre-existing economic problems — plunged the country into an economic crisis. “Many Iranians are struggling to make ends meet, thanks to an economy decimated by mismanagement, corruption and sanctions,” Vivian, who is The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, told me. “Some are even offering to sell their organs.”

She added:

In the past — say, when Rouhani first got elected, in 2013 — lots of Iranians felt genuinely optimistic that things would turn around, because Rouhani promised that the nuclear deal with the U.S. would help open up the economy and boost trade, along with getting the sanctions lifted. But the mood darkened when those benefits failed to materialize before President Trump scuttled the deal.

With the election of Raisi, a hard-liner who has spoken against returning to the deal and whose government hasn’t shown much flexibility in negotiations with Western powers over the last year, Iranians who had hoped for a recovery felt like there was no way things would improve.

Does all this mean Trump’s policy is succeeding? Many experts say it’s too soon to make that judgment. The policy has sharply raised the risk that Iran will soon have a nuclear weapon. And a week or so of protests does not mean Iran’s regime will collapse. If the regime does collapse, however, it will be fair to revisit Trump’s Iran legacy.

4. Biden is taking a tougher approach toward Iran than Obama did.

In 2009, during the last major wave of protests, Obama did relatively little to support them, out of a concern that Iran’s government could then portray the demonstrations as the work of foreign agitators.

This time, Biden is pursuing a more confrontational policy. “Part of the reason that there was a different kind of approach in 2009 was the belief that somehow if America spoke out, it would undermine the protesters, not aid them,” Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, who also served in the Obama administration, said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. “What we learned in the aftermath of that is that you can overthink these things, that the most important thing for the United States to do is to be firm and clear and principled in response to citizens of any country demanding their rights and dignity.”

One example: To combat Iran’s government’s attempts to shut down large parts of the internet and prevent protesters from communicating with each other, the Biden administration has authorized some technology companies to offer services inside Iran without risk of violating U.S. sanctions. The administration also allowed SpaceX — one of Elon Musk’s companies, which offers the Starlink communication service — to send satellite equipment into Iran.

“The technology available today makes it easier for Iranians to communicate in secret than ever before,” David Sanger said. “That’s why the Iranians are trying to bring down the whole internet inside Iran. That’s real desperation.”

5. In the short term, Iran’s government seems likely to prevail. Then again, revolutions are rarely predictable.

David put it this way: “History would suggest that since the state holds all the guns, this isn’t likely to last. But sometimes it’s a mistake to be a slave to past events. The successful Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 led many of us — me included — to suspect that Ukraine would shatter in a few days back in February.”

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