After the Protests, Here’s What’s Next for Iran



Anti-government protests in Iran driven by furor over economic disparity between the poor and the ruling elites had reportedly died down by Thursday, leaving the principal foes of the revolutionary regime in Tehran to begin focusing on two key questions: What exactly happened, and how can they exploit it?
Reports emerged earlier in the day that the almost monthlong series of demonstrations – the largest since 2009 – that reached fever pitch last week in mostly rural and poor areas of the country were waning after days of clashes with security forces that saw hundreds arrested and dozens killed.
Western analysts largely agree that the dissent was spawned by the leak online of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's proposed budget that increased financial support for wealthy, influential corporations and religious institutions largely immune from federal taxation while curtailing government subsidies for the poor. That sparked outrage over Iran's widespread and expensive operations abroad, including its fighting in Syria, its funding rebels in Yemen, and its support of allied militant and political groups in places like Iraq and Lebanon.
The Iranian government's activities outside its borders are among the most complex in the Middle East and most concerning to the Trump administration and its closest foreign partners, like Israel and Saudi Arabia. This has led to intense speculation about what caused protests that were evidently leaderless to spread so broadly and how they will continue to reverberate through the government.
The West has a poor track record predicting what Iranians will do next, leading some experts to question the wisdom of the country's rivals inserting themselves, or appearing to insert themselves, into the situation.

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