New year, new protests
International | Iranian rulers struggle to respond to nationwide demonstrations
by Mindy Belz
Posted 1/03/18, 04:57 pm
IRAN: The country’s ruling ayatollahs and government officials struggled in their response to nationwide protests—launched now in more than 70 cities covering 27 provinces—as demonstrations entered a seventh day Wednesday. Tens of thousands of Iranians continued to chant “Death to Khamenei! Death to Rouhani!” overnight, despite efforts to force government workers to attend pro-government counterrallies.
- Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster gave interviews Wednesday via Voice of America directed at the Iranian people.
- Despite widespread action, many in Iran’s middle class thus far are staying home as protests remain largely leaderless and without a formed agenda. Such wider involvement will be a decisive factor in whether protests lead to significant change. Older Iranians, too, remember the crackdown following the 1979 revolution and the backlash from the failed 2009 demonstrations. They also look to Syria, where sustained but leaderless street protests have sparked nearly seven years of civil war.
EGYPT: Authorities are charging with murder a gunman who opened fire on a Coptic church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo on Friday, killing 11. Two days later, gunmen shot and killed two shop owners, also Christians, in the latest string of attacks on Egypt’s Coptic community.
VIETNAM: Hanoi’s Supreme Court has upheld the nine-year sentence given Catholic rights activist and blogger Maria Tran Thi Nga, a mother of two young children who was arrested a year ago for posting “propaganda against the state.”
UNITED STATES: The death Tuesday of Mormon church President Thomas S. Monson, 90, marks the end of an era in which Monson was one of the longest-serving apostles in Mormon history and presided over membership expansion from 2.1 million to 15.9 million worldwide.
2018: The new year is full of risks, according to a report from Eurasia Group, and with declining U.S. influence, “the global order is unraveling.” But British commentator Gideon Rachman—despite citing the Korean Peninsula as the greatest risk for war in 2018—is making the “case for optimism.”
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