Now, Iran itself is the site of large scale protests. The proximate cause is high fuel prices. The cause of the high prices is, at least in part, U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Protests are said to have broken out in at least 100 cities and towns. Amnesty International says that at least 106 people have been killed, and that the death count may actually be much higher.
The Iranian regime denies that there have been more than a few deaths. It acknowledges only five, and says four of these were suffered by members of security forces. The government has virtually shut down internet access to the rest of the world, making it difficult for insiders to document the regime’s level of violence.
There’s no doubt, though, that the regime is firing live ammunition at protesters. This includes snipers shooting at them from rooftops.
As long as security forces remain loyal to the regime, and willing to shoot civilians, the regime figures to retain power. But the combination of an economic squeeze and widespread government corruption will likely force the regime, over time, to raise its level of violence against the people. One would hope that, over time, these factors will also undermine the regime’s ability to hold the undivided loyalty of the forces that protect it from the people.