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Iran Scrambles to Crush Uprising

For nearly seven weeks, authorities have struggled to stamp out dissent.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
A picture obtained by AFP shows people gathering next to a burning motorcycle in the capital, Tehran.
A picture obtained by AFP shows people gathering next to a burning motorcycle in the capital, Tehran.
A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran shows people gathering next to a burning motorcycle in the capital, Tehran, on Oct. 8. AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Iran’s efforts to crush dissent, Israel’s election, and Lebanon’s power vacuum

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Tehran Intensifies Crackdown on Protests 

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Iran’s efforts to crush dissent, Israel’s election, and Lebanon’s power vacuum

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


Tehran Intensifies Crackdown on Protests 

Iran has vowed to hold public trials to penalize as many as 1,000 protesters, Iranian media said on Monday, in the regime’s latest effort to crush the demonstrations that have erupted across the country.

For nearly seven weeks, authorities have scrambled—and failed—to quell the outpouring of anger that was triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the morality police’s custody. In the resulting clashes, an estimated 272 protesters have died, 39 of whom were children, while around 14,000 people have been detained. 

On Saturday, Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, made one of the regime’s starkest threats yet, warning that Saturday would be the “last day” of the unrest and ordering protesters to stay home. Salami is “probably the one individual that protesters should fear almost as much as [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei himself,” said Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute.

Still, the demand didn’t have the effect he likely expected. Rather than backing down, protests continued to sweep university campuses on Sunday despite a violent crackdown, in a sharp repudiation of the Revolutionary Guard’s authority.

Experts say Tehran’s decision to issue the warning—and protesters’ clear defiance in response—underscores the regime’s growing concerns about the unrest. 

The fact that Iranian authorities “have to almost come out and issue an ultimatum like this tells me that they don’t see an end to this, and they’re starting to worry about how long this could continue,” Vatanka said.

As Iran has ramped up its repression, so, too, has global pressure against the regime. Canada unveiled a new slate of sanctions against senior Iranian officials on Monday, while the European Union is reportedly considering designating the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. 


What We’re Following Today

Israel votes. Israelis will head to the polls today to vote in national elections for the fifth time in a four-year period. The election is seen as a contest between former right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was ousted in June 2021 and is currently facing corruption charges, and Yair Lapid, Israel’s centrist caretaker leader

Bolsonaro’s silence. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has not spoken publicly since being narrowly defeated by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the Oct. 30 runoff election; there are fears that he may challenge the legitimacy of the results or refuse to concede. Truck drivers who support him have blocked roads in more than 300 locations across the country, while other supporters have surrounded army bases, urging the military to intervene. Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the truckers to dismantle roadblocks and disperse or face fines of more than $19,000 per hour.

Lebanon’s political crisis. Lebanon is facing a power vacuum after President Michel Aoun’s political term concluded on Monday without a successor in place to take his position. Under Aoun, who was in power for six years, Lebanon slid into a dire economic crisis that plunged 80 percent of its people into poverty. 


Keep an Eye On 

Ukraine’s water shortages. Ukrainians in Kyiv have had to wait in long lines for water as Russia strikes Ukrainian critical infrastructure, leaving residents facing water shortages. An estimated 40 percent of people in Kyiv had lost their water supplies, while 270,000 homes faced power outages as of Monday night, said Vitali Klitschko, the city’s mayor. 

The Philippines’ deadly storm. At least 98 people died and 69 more were wounded after a tropical storm swept the Philippines this past weekend, triggering landslides and causing millions of dollars in infrastructure losses. Sixty-three people are still believed to be missing, authorities said. 


Monday’s Most Read

Why Isn’t Russia a Democracy? by Lucian Kim

How Team Biden Tried to Coup-Proof Brazil’s Elections by Robbie Gramer

Biden Short-Circuits China by Rishi Iyengar


Odds and Ends 

The Dutch artist Piet Mondrian is known for his abstract, geometric works that spotlight primary colors. But one of his pieces—called New York City I—may have been displayed the wrong way for 75 years, the Guardian reported.

“The thickening of the grid should be at the top, like a dark sky,” Susanne Meyer-Büser, a curator, told the Guardian. “Once I pointed it out to the other curators, we realized it was very obvious. I am 100 percent certain the picture is the wrong way around.”

Although the art world remains divided, the work will continue to be hung in the same, potentially upside-down, fashion. The piece is already fragile, experts warn, and flipping it now could destroy it. 

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

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