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Iran’s Protesters Aren’t Backing Down

Even with government crackdowns and a mounting death toll, the country’s unrest shows no signs of slowing.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Iranians protest the death of Mahsa Amini.
Iranians protest the death of Mahsa Amini.
Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of the capital, Tehran, during a protest on Sept. 21 for 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody. AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Iran’s enduring protests, Britain’s spiraling economic crisis, and Israel’s deadly raid in the West Bank. 

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Protests Continue to Sweep Iran

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Iran’s enduring protests, Britain’s spiraling economic crisis, and Israel’s deadly raid in the West Bank. 

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Protests Continue to Sweep Iran

Nearly two weeks after Iran’s protests first erupted, they have hardened into a defiant wave of anger and frustration that shows no signs of slowing despite government crackdowns and a mounting death toll.

The unrest was catalyzed by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been in police custody over allegedly breaching Iran’s strict hijab law. But the protests’ focus has come to encompass everything from state repression and economic instability to the country’s morality police, who had arrested Amini and are charged with imposing the country’s conservative dress code

“There is an overall fundamental sense of a regime that doesn’t deliver to its own people,” said Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute, who added that protesters have a “long list of grievances.”

Women have been at the center of the demonstrations, burning their headscarves and cutting their hair in protest of Iran’s rigid laws. At least 41 people have been killed in the ensuing clashes, state media said, while more than 1,200 people have been detained. Across the country, protesters chanted, “Death to the dictator” and “We will die, we will die, but we’ll get Iran back,” Reuters reported.

As the unrest intensified, the government slashed internet access and blamed Kurdish opposition groups for orchestrating the protests, launching airstrikes against them that killed at least 13 people and injured dozens more. Throughout this period, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has kept silent.

The regime “refuses, by and large, to accept this reality that they don’t really represent the wishes, the desires, the needs of their own people,” Vatanka said. 

Popular Iranian artists, celebrities, and athletes have already voiced their support for the ongoing protests. If prominent politicians within the regime do the same, Vatanka said, it could signify the start of a more profound political shift in comparison to previous protests. 

“We haven’t seen defections from the regime,” Vatanka said. “If they start doing that, then we can start saying this is different.”


What We’re Following Today

Britain’s economic nosedive. As the value of the British pound plunged and government debt swelled, the Bank of England announced it would purchase as much as £65 billion ($71 billion) in long-term bonds in an effort to help stabilize the economy. 

But how did Britain get here? After a combination of austerity and economic shockwaves from the pandemic and Ukraine war, “the British economy, riddled with myriad systemic issues, is stagnating—or dying a death by a thousand cuts,” FP’s Amy Mackinnon and Anusha Rathi explain

Deadly West Bank raid. An Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank has killed at least 4 Palestinians and injured 44 more individuals, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. It is one of this year’s deadliest clashes in the West Bank. 

Israeli forces said they planned to arrest two Palestinians linked to an April attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, and that clashes broke out after the two men fired back and detonated an explosive. State-backed Palestinian media said “a large army” was “firing in all directions and shooting tear gas canisters while surrounding and shelling a house.” 


Keep an Eye On 

Unrest in Europe. Tens of thousands of people marched through Prague to protest skyrocketing energy prices and costs of living, calling for the Czech government’s resignation on Wednesday. In September, more than 70,000 protesters also gathered in the city to protest the government’s response to the energy crisis. 

Prague’s example could be a harbinger for what could await other European leaders as the energy crisis deepens. “It has been a wake-up call, and I hope it has been a wake-up call for others across Europe,” Tomas Pojar, an adviser to the Czech prime minister, told the New York Times.

Solomon Islands snub. In a diplomatic setback for Washington, the Solomon Islands’ government will not sign the Biden administration’s joint summit declaration for the Pacific, saying it wanted to “reflect” on the statement. In recent years, the country has deepened its ties with China, and the two nations recently finalized a security pact.


Wednesday’s Most Read

Russia’s Defeat Would Be America’s Problem by Stephen M. Walt

Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Destroying the Multipolar World by Jeff D. Colgan

Is Italy Seeing the Rise of a New Fascism? by Cameron Abadi


Odds and Ends 

When Danish soccer players compete at the World Cup in Qatar, some will be dressed in black jerseys instead of their typical white and red ones to protest Qatar’s human rights abuses. Since Doha was awarded hosting rights in 2010, more than 6,500 migrant workers in the country have died, many of whom were likely building infrastructure for the tournament, the Guardian reported.

Black is the “colour of mourning,” manufacturer Hummel Sport wrote in an Instagram post, adding that their support for the Danish team “shouldn’t be confused with support for a tournament that has cost thousands of people their lives.”

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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