Protests spreading in Iran over high unemployment and inflation

Protests are spreading unpredictably fast in several cities in Iran. They are protesting against high unemployment, a stagnant economy with inflationary prices and expensive overseas military interventions.

A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment.

Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. Iranian hard-liners rallied Saturday to support the country’s supreme leader and clerically overseen government as spontaneous protests sparked by anger over the country’s ailing economy roiled major cities in the Islamic Republic. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft.

That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

President Donald Trump on Friday condemned the arrest of protesters in Iran, telling Tehran that “the world is watching” as officials reported fresh demonstrations over economic hardships, corruption and regional interventions. Scores were arrested in Tehran and other cities on Friday, after 52 were detained on the first day of protests on Thursday.

“Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” Trump tweeted.

“Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests.”

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