Protests have flared up in Tehran after two days of collapse of the Iranian rial in the currency market. International sanctions on Iranian banks and oil have caused the rial to plummet 18 percent against the U.S. dollar on Monday and hit a record low of 37,500 rial to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday.
Government reaction to these protests has varied since they began with initial reports indicating that the main bazaar in Tehran, where protests have been centered, was closed for security reasons. Mehr, the semi-official news agency in Iran, later reported that the bazaar was open and that action would be taken against shopkeepers who closed their shops. In either case, protestors have been due to “enemies” and that international sanctions would not bully Iran into giving up its nuclear program.
Several camera phone videos of the protests have been added to YouTube. In this video, according to a rough translation to English from Farsi, the protestors can be heard chanting “Support Support Dear Bazari! Close shop! Close shop! Let’s go! Let’s go!”:
Alireza Nader, senior analyst at RAND Corporation, says of the protests, “This is an indication that sanctions are working in the sense that they have increased pressure on the regime. If anything, this shows that a military confrontation with Iran, at this point, would be highly counter-productive.”