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Iran’s Uprising Gains Steam

After one month of unrest, Tehran’s brutal crackdown has done little to quell the outpouring of anger.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
A motorcycle is on fire in Tehran.
A motorcycle is on fire in Tehran.
A motorcycle is on fire in Tehran on Oct. 8. AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Iran’s resilient protest movement, the start of China’s 20th Party Congress, Britain’s economic policy whiplash, and the world this week. 

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Iran’s Protests Persist After One Month

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Iran’s resilient protest movement, the start of China’s 20th Party Congress, Britain’s economic policy whiplash, and the world this week. 

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


Iran’s Protests Persist After One Month

A month after Irans protest movement first erupted, it appears to be gaining steam in the face of Tehran’s violent crackdown, which human rights groups say has killed at least 233 people—including 32 children.

To crush dissent, security forces have pulled from a brutal playbook, including firing assault rifles at demonstrators, forcibly shipping dissenting students off to psychiatric institutions, and even sexually assaulting a protester. Authorities have also cut internet access and punished celebrities who back the demonstrations with arrests and travel bans.

That’s done little to quell the outpouring of anger, especially as Tehran’s repressive tactics kill more children and protesters start to demand broader political change. The recent deaths of two 16-year-old teenage girls after they took part in protests have further fueled the public’s fury, the New York Times reported. 

On Saturday, gunshots and loud blasts were heard throughout Tehran as a fire engulfed the infamous Evin prison, known for holding prominent political prisoners and other dissidents. Four detainees died after inhaling smoke while more than 60 others were wounded, according to state media

Exactly what happened beforehand still remains unclear, although the Wall Street Journal reported that prisoners had been shouting anti-government messages. Some of the detainees’ families allege that state forces stoked the fire and believe more than four people were killed; Iranian officials insist that the incident is unrelated to the ongoing unrest. 

As reports emerged on Saturday, U.S. officials expressed their concern for the Americans currently confined in the prison. “We are following reports from Evin Prison with urgency,” tweeted U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “Iran is fully responsible for the safety of our wrongfully detained citizens, who should be released immediately.”

The European Union is expected to levy sanctions today on Tehran over its response to the protests, following in the footsteps of the United States, Britain, and Canada. 

“Violent repression must stop immediately. Protesters must be released,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign minister, tweeted. “Internet access and accountability are needed.”


The World This Week

Monday, Oct. 17: Sweden’s parliament votes to confirm a new government led by Ulf Kristersson.

NATO begins a nuclear deterrence exercise that includes 14 alliance countries.

Tuesday, Oct. 18: The United Nations Security Council discusses Mali and Kosovo.

Wednesday, Oct. 19: The U.N. Security Council discusses the Central African Republic.

Thursday, Oct. 20: Israel and Lebanon will reportedly sign an agreement resolving their maritime dispute.

Friday, Oct. 21: The U.N. Security Council discusses Libya.


What We’re Following Today

Xi cements his power. Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to deepen his control by securing an unprecedented third five-year term at China’s 20th Party Congress, a six-day event that began Sunday. In his opening speech, he emphasized his commitment to zero-COVID and made pointed remarks over outside “interference” in Taiwan while omitting any references to Ukraine. 

Foreign Policy has gone behind the scenes at the 20th Party Congress, covering everything from Xi’s enemies to China’s sluggish economy. Follow our coverage here

Britain’s economic disarray. Britains economic policy has undergone another major shift under new Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, whom British Prime Minister Liz Truss appointed to the role after firing Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday.

Facing mounting criticism, Truss made the move as a last-ditch attempt to prop up her crashing reputation. Hunt, who had signaled he would likely raise some taxes, gave an emergency statement Monday morning that appears to reverse almost all of Kwarteng’s tax cuts. More controversially, he announced a reduction of the government’s energy-support scheme, with household guaranteed price caps lasting only six months rather than two years.

Markets reacted immediately and bond yields on gilts fell as the pound rose against the dollar. Even if Hunt manages to reassure markets, business leaders and Conservative parliamentarians are already calling for Truss’s removal and replacement—a move that some Truss allies warn could precipitate an early general election. 


Keep an Eye On 

Russia’s faltering war effort. Russian authorities are pulling men from homeless shelters, cafes, and even straight from the streets to fight in Ukraine, leaving many racing to hide and escape, the Washington Post reported. Out of the 300,000 people required for partial mobilization, 222,000 have already been conscripted, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last Friday. 

Tunisia’s IMF deal. Tunisia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed to an initial deal for a $1.9 billion loan as the country struggles under surging inflation and food shortages. Once ratified, it will be the two parties’ third such deal in nearly a decade. 


This Weekend’s Most Read

Biden Is Now All-In on Taking Out China by Jon Bateman

The Thaw on Russia’s Periphery Has Already Started by Daniel B. Baer

Who Are Xi’s Enemies? by Deng Yuwen 


Odds and Ends 

Over a thousand pairs of twins donned matching outfits and traveled to Igbo-Ora, Nigeria, to take part in an annual twins festival last weekend, The Associated Press reported. Many of the twins were from Igbo-Ora, which is home to an exceptionally large number of twins. 

John Ofem, a gynecologist based in the capital, told The Associated Press that he thought diet could help explain the city’s high twin birth rate. “There are things they eat there that have a high level of certain hormones that now result in what we call multiple ovulation,” he said.

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

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