Iran protests end but regime now faces 'race against time,' experts say

Ahmadinejad's former deputy Hamid Baghaie was sentenced to 15 years in prison on financial charges

Ahmadinejad's former deputy Hamid Baghaie was sentenced to 15 years in prison on financial charges

The demonstrations, which began in the last week of December over economic grievances, quickly spread across the country to become the largest seen in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election. But, the success of this movement this time around will also require timely backing from the United States and the worldwide community.

"In standing with the Iranian people, we must explain that they are not the target of our sanctions".

Numerous protesters questioned Iran's foreign policy in the Middle East, where it has intervened in Syria and Iraq in a battle for influence with rival Saudi Arabia.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also blamed "Americans and Zionists" for the protests, saying money supporting them came from "one of the filthy- rich governments of the Persian Gulf".

"Some countries tried to misuse the recent incidents", Zarif said without blaming any specific country, and added that "no country can create a secure environment for itself at the expense of creating insecurity among its neighbours".

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Protesters in Iran say more than 20 people have been killed, including a 13-year-old boy.

Since the USA -led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran has expanded its presence across the Middle East as a counter to the American bases that dot the Arab Gulf countries surrounding it.

Accounts are just starting to emerge of detainees locked up in connection with the protests, and Iranian officials continue to block many social-media networks and other sources of information, including Western radio and television. Even though Iran is one of the most educated places in the world, numerous citizens could not find a job and is trying to find jobs overseas, causing a "brain drain".

Haroonian and other Iranian-Jewish activists are in the minority for being more vocal in their support of the protestors in Iran.

How could the Republican Guard surrender its slice of the Iranian economy and end its foreign interventions without imperiling its reason for being - to protect and promote the Iranian Islamic revolution? However, there was supposed to be more job opportunities and a better life, but none of that has been reached and the USA created new sanctions after Iran violated some of the agreement including launching a rocket this past summer.

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It's hard to tell right now who emerged stronger after the protests - Rouhani or his hard-line opponents.

"So we stand in solidarity with people who want to walk in the streets to express their political opinions peacefully".

"On the one hand it has succeeded in preventing these protests getting out of hand and contained them to a great extend and they did not achieve critical mass in terms of numbers", Randjbar-Daemi said.

The truth is that whatever our reservations with the Iranian system, it is more democratic than those of Washington's Arab allies in the region.

For his part, Iran's top diplomat underlined that in addition to the statements it has issued on the necessity of preserving the JCPOA, the European Union should adopt practical measures to maintain and implement the nuclear accord.

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