At the turn of the year, street protests primarily directed against the economic and foreign policy of Iran’s government occurred throughout the country. The demonstrations, which had their epicentre in northeastern Razavi Khorasan Province, became increasingly critical of the Iranian regime. Clashes between protesters and security forces reportedly led to numerous casualties, including fatalities.

“The most recent protests illustrate the risk of spontaneous political violence throughout Iran.“

Pressure on the Iranian System

While the demonstrations following the presidential elections of 2009 were largely organised by opposition supporters in Tehran, the most recent protests took place in numerous cities and were both spontaneous and highly organised. The violent reaction by security forces has contained the demonstrations for now; however, pressure on the leadership of the state, notably from poorer segments of the population, is rising across Iran.

Tensions Concern Travellers

Due to the risk of further spontaneous street protests, violent clashes between security forces and protesters or among opposing groups may catch unprepared business travellers to Iran by surprise. The wave of detentions resulting from the recent unrest can equally affect foreigners. According to Iranian state media, a European citizen was arrested in Lorestan Province in early January 2018 under allegations of agitation. Moreover, tightened security measures as well as additional restrictions on internet access in Iran can complicate travel and business activities.