Protests erupted in more than 100 Iranian cities last month, sparked by the government’s decision to triple the price of gasoline. Demonstrators blocked traffic, burned images of the Iranian leadership in effigy, and attacked banks, government buildings, and symbols of the Islamic Republic. The Iranian government responded with brute force, imposing a blackout of the internet and deploying security forces to crack down on the streets. The violent suppression has left hundreds dead and thousands injured or detained. This unrest comes as Tehran struggles to navigate U.S. economic pressure applied since the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and an increasingly tumultuous environment across the broader Middle East.
On December 18, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion on the unrest in Iran, what it means for the future of the country and the region, and how the United States and the international community should respond. Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius led a conversation featuring journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari, whose memoir of his own imprisonment in Iran was the basis for the 2014 film “Rosewater.” Ignatius and Bahari were joined by Brookings Senior Fellow Suzanne Maloney. Following the discussion, the panelists answered questions from the audience.