Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 183

March 2, 2018

The protests that swept over the Islamic Republic earlier this year have now largely abated, but Iranians continue to demonstrate their discontent with the regime in a variety of ways. Among the most prominent have been demonstrations against compulsory veiling among women, which have continued to grow in Tehran and other cities over the past two months. Pursuant to the Islamic Republic's official dress code, veiling is considered obligatory for women above the age of 13. Additionally, Iranian women are discouraged from donning "figure-hugging dress." Increasingly, however, Iranians are flouting this ordinance. To date, thirty-five women have been arrested in Iran's capital for improper head coverings, and warned by authorities that they could face up to a decade in jail for "inciting prostitution."

The actual number of women who have been incarcerated for flouting the regime's veiling requirement is a matter of some dispute, but traffic police in Tehran reported more than 40,000 cases of "bad hijab in cars" late last year alone. This has largely entailed scenarios in which women "let their headscarves drop around their necks." Such cases frequently lead to "fines and a temporary impounding of the vehicle," but have persisted nonetheless. (London
Daily Mail, February 27, 2018)


Iranian president Hassan Rouhani received a verbal warning from more than 90 members of the country's parliament, or majles, on February 15th regarding the deteriorating value of the national currency. The warning came following a "sudden shock" which saw the dollar exceed five thousand tomans in the Iranian market - the highest recorded decline of Iran's currency against the dollar to date. The majles has demanded a response from both Rouhani and his Minister of Economic Affairs, Masoud Karbasian, regarding how they plan to improve the current economic situation. Rouhani is scheduled to begin consultations with the parliament's economic committee in coming days, and if majles members are not satisfied with the discussions, Rouhani could be forced to change some members of his economic team. (London
Asharq Al-Awsat, February 15, 2018)


The Iranian regime has historically taken a skeptical stance toward cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The country's Central Bank has publicly announced its opposition to the use of digital currencies for transactions within the country, deeming them to be "highly unreliable and risky." But this attitude may be changing. In late February, Iranian technology minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi announced that the Iranian government is in the process of creating its own cryptocurrency - a move that many observers see as a way for the regime to circumvent financial barriers such as its exclusion from major international payment networks (among them Visa, MasterCard and PayPal) despite the sanctions relief that has accompanied the 2015 nuclear deal (
Fortune, February 21, 2018)


Qassem Soleimani could soon become Iran's most popular official, eclipsing perennially-popular "reformist" President Hassan Rouhani. The 60-year-old general who heads the Islamic Republic's feared Qods Force paramilitary wing is experiencing a surge in popularity among Iranians grateful for his role in Iran's anti-terrorist campaign in Syria and other regional conflicts. A recent poll conducted by the University of Maryland has found that 64 percent of Iranians surveyed held "a very favorable view of Gen. Soleimani," as compared to only 23.5 percent approval for Rouhani. Soleimani, the principal architect of Iran's regional wars, has been the public face of Iranian support to Shi'ite militias in both Iraq and Syria.

That support has come at a terrible cost. Iranian "militias have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Iraq and elsewhere over the years, and much greater losses of soldiers and civilians of our allies and partners in the region," notes Gen. David Petraeus, the former commanding officer of U.S. forces in Iraq. This has put Soleimani squarely in Washington's crosshairs, with CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently warning that Soleimani would be held responsible for "any attacks on American interests in Iraq that are under their control." (
Wall Street Journal
, February 20, 2018)

Related Categories: Terrorism; Radical Islam; Iran Freedom Initiative; Iran

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