Syrian Scenario is an Impossible Outcome for Iran's Ongoing Unrest – Expert

© AP Photo / Ebrahim NorooziIranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017
Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017 - Sputnik International
Mass protests have been underway in several major Iranian cities, including Tehran, since December 28. Tehran-based Sputnik commentator Emad Abshenass explains a few distinctive features of the ongoing unrest, the largest the country has seen since the 2009 presidential election.

The rallies, which began with economic and social demands, only later transformed into political protests, targeting President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This indicates that the organization of the protests is now controlled by the political opposition, Abshenass pointed out.

"The standoff in the streets is only between opposition forces," he said.

Abshenass continued to say that public anger over the economic situation in Iran objectively reflects the actual state of affairs in Tehran, but this situation is due to obvious external reasons, among other things.

"It would be absurd to deny that," he said. "However, the current economic situation is the result of an extremely difficult period under Western sanctions. As for the United States, sanctions are still in place, including the travel ban."

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Many experts have compared the protests in Iran to the unrest in Syria, which triggered an armed conflict that turned a once prosperous country into a hotbed of terrorism and civil war.

Abshenass disputes such a claim, saying that in the current situation there is no single piece of evidence to indicate the presence of terrorist forces in Iran.

"Iran’s borders are secured and closed to jihadists and other militant groups," he pointed out.

People protest in Tehran, Iran December 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media - Sputnik International
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Commenting on the political demands of the protesters, the analyst said, "If their actions are determined by the intention to topple the government, what do they want to have instead? The answer is unclear because there have been no such demands."

Finally, Abshenass drew at least one parallel between Iran and Syria, positing that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei resembles President Bashar Assad in terms of "serving the interests of his nation", also adding that "provocations" against him are possible.

"In recent decades, Khamenei proved to the international community that Iran is one of the most stable countries not only in the region, but around the world. It would be shortsighted to believe that his position can be shattered by protests and provocations. What is going on now is a provocation by opponents of Iran," the expert concluded.

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