Iran’s economy was a key driver of the protests that erupted on December 28. Tens of thousands took to the streets to express their frustration with rising prices, unemployment, the gap between rich and poor, and corruption. The 2015 nuclear deal, which included sanctions relief, has not yielded significant benefits for the average Iranian.
On December 28, 2017, protests erupted in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, over high prices and corruption. Anti-government demonstrations quickly spread to dozens of cities. They were the largest show of opposition since 2009. Some of the rallies turned violent. More than 20 people reportedly died in clashes with security forces and more than a 3,000 have been arrested. But the size and frequency of demonstrations decreased after a week.
On December 28, 2017, protests broke out in Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city, over economic hardships, corruption, and rising food and fuel prices. The demonstrations continued into the new year, morphing into political rallies and spreading within the first week to dozens of cities across the Islamic Republic.
2017 was tumultuous for many Middle East countries, but less for Iran than in previous years. Tehran encountered few existential political or security challenges, whereas Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya faced basic questions about their long-term viability. Iran capitalized on the region’s chaos to become more powerful than at any point since the 1979 revolution.
On November 4, Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. Saudi forces said they intercepted the missile but the Houthis hailed the launch as a success. A Houthi spokesman told Al Jazeera that the Burkan 2-H, a type of Scud missile, traveled more than 800 kilometers to its target. It was the first time the Houthis had attacked the Saudi capital.
The Trump administration has cited North Korea’s attainment of nuclear weapons and increasingly advanced missiles as a key reason for reexamining the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. “What we're saying now with Iran is don't let it become the next North Korea,” U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on October 15.