The Iranian rial has plummeted to an all-time low, losing roughly 80 percent of its value since the end of 2011. Now, the effects are being felt on the streets of Tehran: Riot police used teargas to disperse protesters who gathered outside the central bank to denounce the government’s stewardship of the economy.
As Iranian officials work to stabilize the currency, the capital’s central bazaar also closed for security reasons. The above video, courtesy of BBC Persian, shows a hundreds-strong protest as well as the shuttered shops of bazaar merchants. Another video provides a glimpse of a protest at the entrance to the bazaar.
It’s impossible to know how this situation will develop — but it has potential consequences for Iran and the entire Middle East. It also remains an open question how the White House would react to an outbreak of domestic unrest in Iran: A recent New York Times article reported that President Barack Obama "expressed regret" about his muted reaction to the 2009 protests in the country. "There was a feeling of ‘we ain’t gonna be behind the curve on this again,’" said one senior administration official.
That’s a promise U.S. officials may have to make good on sooner rather than later.