In late December, Iran was hit by a wave of protests. Demonstrators from many segments of society, including students and middle- and lower-class citizens, demanded the government do something about rising food prices. The protests started in a major city in the northeast but soon spread to dozens of towns, villages and urban centers throughout the country. They were the largest demonstrations since 2009, when more than a million people poured into the streets of Tehran to protest the presidential election results. The recent demonstrations are smaller but more widely dispersed than those in 2009.
Iran is, however, in a different position now than it was roughly 10 years ago. The country has emerged from the Syrian civil war in arguably the best position out of all the powers in the region. In Iraq, the state security forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces – a coalition of mostly Shiite militias – are largely under Iranian control. In Syria, the regime of Pres