Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

Iran’s Protesters Dig in Their Heels

As the regime’s violence intensifies, the protest movement is still gaining strength and global visibility.

By , a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
Protesters in New York call on the United Nations to take action against the treatment of women in Iran.
Protesters in New York call on the United Nations to take action against the treatment of women in Iran.
Protesters call on the United Nations to take action against the treatment of women in Iran during a demonstration in New York on Nov. 19. YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Iran’s government intensifies its crackdown on mass protests, China seeks to contain a significant COVID-19 outbreak weeks after adjusting its rules, and Malaysia’s king seeks to resolve an electoral crisis.

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


Iran’s Protests Endure Despite Crackdowns

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Iran’s government intensifies its crackdown on mass protests, China seeks to contain a significant COVID-19 outbreak weeks after adjusting its rules, and Malaysia’s king seeks to resolve an electoral crisis.

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


Iran’s Protests Endure Despite Crackdowns

More than two months have passed since mass protests erupted in Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian Kurdish woman, died in Tehran in the custody of the morality police. The youth-led movement continues to gain strength and capture global attention despite increasing violence at the hands of the regime.

Last week, four people were sentenced to death in connection with their participation in protests challenging the country’s clerical establishment. In recent days, security forces escalated their crackdown with live fire in Iran’s Kurdish region, which has been at the center of the protest movement. On Monday, tens of thousands of protesters there joined the funeral of a 16-year-old boy killed at a protest in the small town of Piranshahr.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday called the ongoing crisis in Iran “critical,” saying that more than 300 people have been killed in the regime crackdowns so far. Accounts from Kurdish-majority cities suggest that security forces killed more than 40 people in the last week, an OHCHR spokesperson said, and estimates from other rights groups are even higher.

The protesters’ enduring anger—built on dissatisfaction with the hard-line government, the economic crisis, and policies such as the mandatory hijab law—presents a significant and growing challenge to the regime. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that Iranian leaders reached out to two of the Islamic Republic’s more moderate founding families last month, asking them to speak out to calm the protests, but they refused.

The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva will hold a debate on the protests on Thursday, with diplomats and witnesses expected to attend. The session will hear a proposal to create a fact-finding mission focused on the government crackdown to collect evidence of potential abuses that could later be used in a national or international court.

Iran’s unrest has also gained visibility at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where the country’s national team began its first match against England on Monday by refusing to sing the national anthem in an apparent show of solidarity with protesters. The team had previously faced criticism from activists for bowing to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at a send-off before traveling to Qatar; videos online showed some crowds of protesters celebrating Iran’s loss.

Iran plays against Wales on Friday. Some Iranian politicians issued veiled threats toward the team, raising questions about what the players would do next, the Guardian reports. On Tuesday, the chairman of Tehran’s city council said, “We will never allow anyone to insult our anthem and flag.” Another lawmaker called for the team to be replaced with more patriotic players. However, national media have steered away from the team’s silent protest.


What We’re Following Today

China tightens COVID rules. Not long after making some changes to its strict zero-COVID policy, some Chinese cities have doubled down again as cases rise. Health authorities reported the first official deaths from COVID-19 since May this week, along with recording 28,000 new cases on Monday—nearing a record set in April. In response to outbreaks, Beijing has closed parks and museums, and Shanghai announced new rules for recent arrivals to the city.

China’s response to the latest wave has raised questions about its path forward, with its zero-COVID policy now reflective of its global isolation. It has also spooked investors, who have hoped for an easing of the policy as Beijing’s economy suffers. On Tuesday, large protests erupted at a FoxConn factory that produces Apple iPhones in Zhengzhou.

Malaysia’s hung parliament. Malaysia has had three prime ministers in three years. It now faces a political stalemate after neither leading contender secured a majority in parliamentary elections on Nov. 19. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declined King Abdullah’s suggestion to form a “unity government,” which leaves it up to the monarch to appoint someone to cobble together a coalition.

Today, the king was expected to meet with politicians from the incumbent Barisan Nasional coalition, which has so far refused to back either Anwar or Muhyiddin. Anwar’s coalition won more seats overall, but an Islamist party that is part of Muhyiddin’s coalition gained significant support, raising fears of deepening divisions in Malaysia.

Scottish independence referendum ruling. According to a Wednesday ruling by the U.K. Supreme Court, Scotland lacks the authority to hold an independence referendum without agreement from the British government—a blow to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hold a vote in October 2023.

Robert Reed, the president of the Supreme Court, relied on a Canadian Supreme Court ruling regarding Quebec’s claims to independence—concluding that Scotland, like Quebec, was not a colonized or oppressed nation. The “right to self-determination under international law only exists in situations of former colonies, or where a people is oppressed, as for example under foreign military occupation, or where a definable group is denied meaningful access to government to pursue their political, economic, cultural and social development,” Reed said.


Keep an Eye On

MBS’s World Cup win. Saudi Arabia pulled off a major World Cup upset on Tuesday, defeating Argentina in group play. But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman already looked like a winner in Qatar, sitting next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the opener. His appearance caps a few busy weeks of diplomacy for the crown prince and follows Washington’s decision to grant him immunity in a civil lawsuit over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia’s World Cup victory was celebrated across the Arab world, the Washington Post reports, and Riyadh declared today a national holiday to mark the historic win.

Russian oil price cap. The United States and its Western allies aim to reach an agreement today on a price cap on Russian oil—central to efforts to sanction Russia for its invasion of Ukraine—after months of discussion. The policy aims to limit Russian energy revenue without causing a major spike in oil prices. Ambassadors from European Union member states will meet first to nail down a price with unanimous agreement.

The G-7 countries and Australia plan to enforce the price cap beginning Dec. 5. The EU is also working on a plan to cap Russian natural gas prices.


Tuesday’s Most Read

 Ukraine Has a Secret Resistance Operating Behind Russian Lines by Norma Costello and Vera Mironova 

The Franco-German Motor Is on Fire by Caroline de Gruyter

In Spain, Can Truth Ever Bring Reconciliation? by Mark Nayler


Odds and Ends

Employees at a museum in the German town of Manching discovered on Tuesday that the museum’s prized collection of Celtic gold coins had been stolen—with the thieves apparently meddling with the town’s phone and internet services to evade detection. “They cut off the whole of Manching,” the mayor told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Professionals were at work here.”

The 450-coin collection was worth “several million euros,” according to police. The heist at the Bavarian museum is the latest high-profile robbery in Germany in recent years, including the theft of a 100-kilogram (220-pound) gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.

Audrey Wilson is a senior editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands.

Xi-Biden Meeting May Help End China’s Destructive Isolation

Beijing has become dangerously locked off from the world.

The exterior of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, is pictured on March 27, 2018.
The exterior of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, is pictured on March 27, 2018.

Sweden’s Espionage Scandal Raises Hard Questions on Spy Recruitment

Intelligence agencies debate whether foreign-born citizens are more targeted.

President Joe Biden gestures with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two leaders met in a hallway as Biden was going to a European Commission on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on November 15, 2022.
President Joe Biden gestures with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two leaders met in a hallway as Biden was going to a European Commission on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on November 15, 2022.

The G-20 Proved It’s Our World Government

At a time of global conflict, world powers showed that cooperation can actually work.

An illustration for Puck magazine from 1905 shows the battle against bureaucracy.
An illustration for Puck magazine from 1905 shows the battle against bureaucracy.

Only an Absolute Bureaucracy Can Save Us

The West will only restore its stability when civil servants are again devoted to the public rather than themselves.