Middle East

Call it a Revolution? Iran protest movement defies growing brutality

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Back in September, when Iran's protest movement caught the world by surprise, conventional thinking was that with patience and ruthlessness, the regime would eventually outlast whatever came its way. After all, that has been the playbook so many times since the Islamic revolution of 1979. But is this time different?

We are now into the third month of what protesters are insisting is a revolution and despite ever-growing brutality – outrage over for instance last week's killing of a nine-year-old boy by unidentified gunmen in the western city of Izeh – what has gone from a women's movement to a youth movement is now starting to look like an uprising.

That regime playbook also includes a familiar tactic: blame it on foreign agents. We ask our panel about the crackdown on minority Sunnis, Arabs, Azeris and Kurds, which comes complete with cross-border raids into Iraq. We also ask about what France's president has branded "hostage diplomacy", with authorities in Tehran claiming the arrest of some forty foreign nationals, many accused of spying.

Finally, there is that other insurance policy for a regime fighting for its survival: the race to develop the bomb. We ask our panel about the latest claims of uranium enrichment and whether doubling down on that nuclear programme will matter in the end for an under-sanctions theocracy that still has plenty of might.

Produced by Juliette Laurain, Raphael Mecattaf and Imen Mellaz.

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