Tehran’s Grand Bazaar was shut by protesters shouting slogans against the ruling class, including “death to Palestine,” The Times of Israel reported Monday.
The protests were sparked by the continued collapse of Iran’s currency, the rial, which now trades at 90,000 for one dollar. According to the Times, “the demonstrations indicate widespread anger at the regime for spending billions of dollars on regional proxy wars and supporting terrorist groups, instead of investing it on the struggling economy at home.”
Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators who were protesting Iran’s foreign involvements, even as its domestic economy was faltering.
Protesters on videos posted to social media were chanting “Death to Palestine,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon” and “Leave Syria and think of us.” Other protesters were heard saying, “We don’t want the ayatollahs” and “Death to the dictator.”
Veteran Middle East commentator Ehud Ya’ari said that Monday was the first time that chants of “Death to Palestine” were heard at the anti-regime protests.
The value of the rial has been falling for some time, but its decline has accelerated since President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran. At the end of 2017, 42,000 rial could buy one dollar.
Protests about the economy broke out in late December and early January. Twenty-five people were reported killed and some 5,000 were arrested. The protests earlier this year were believed to be the biggest since the protests following the disputed 2009 election for president.
Two weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to the Iranian people, offering them secrets to Israeli-developed water saving technologies in order to deal with the drought affecting much of the country. Netanyahu blamed the regime for denying water to the Iranian people, and he stressed that the “good and decent” Iranian people “shouldn’t have to face such a cruel regime alone.” Israel, he said, is “with you.”
In a similar vein, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took to social media addressing regular Iranians in Persian and asking “Citizens of Iran, where’d your money go?” on Tuesday. He emphasized that the regime was spending billions on propping up President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
[Photo: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty / YouTube]