Iran stirs trouble abroad, now faces its own hell

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Iranian leaders focusing on the internal conflicts of their neighboring countries more carefully than their own is one of the reasons behind the current street uprisings

Persian expansionism in the Middle East seems to be taking its toll on Iran as domestic protests have snowballed into an avalanche.

It is clear that the Iranian economy is outstretched using vital resources and funds to finance the Iranian interventions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon, which is an extremely expensive business.

Growing street protests show that the ordinary Iranian is dissatisfied with the way the country is being run. People are economically hard pressed and unemployment has turned into a major source of dissatisfaction, especially among the young population.

It is clear that the Iranian leaders neglected their people and spent their money financing military and covert operations abroad.

The protesters have also targeted government involvement in Syria, calling on the government to "leave Syria and think about us." They have also condemned the government's obsession with supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran," they said. Videos show protesters ripping down posters of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani who is in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp's operations abroad.

Besides their military presence abroad, Iranian spies are all over the region - especially active in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon as well as Yemen and the Gulf countries.

Iranian spies are suspected to have started the violent protests in the Kurdish province of Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq. The Iranians apparently tried to instigate similar violence in the Irbil province that is controlled by the Kurds but failed. So they concentrated on Sulaymaniyah, which is regarded as the hotbed of Kurdish dissent, and managed to push people into the streets.

The idea is to create the impression that the Kurdish authorities cannot control the province and thus create the conditions where the central government forces takeover the province and run it through Baghdad. That is why Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi declared recently that if the street violence continues in Sulaymaniyah his forces will have to intervene.

But Persian expansionism seems to have been proven to be an expensive adventure for the Iranian leadership.

Protests that started Thursday have taken place across Iran, from border cities such as Mashhad in the far east to Rasht on the Caspian. By the second day they had spread to at least a dozen cities including Isfahan, Qom, Qzvin, Sari, Kermanshah, Ahvaz, Hamedan, Rasht, Shahrud, Nowshahr and Kashmar. These include a diverse grouping of cities, including those known for religious devotion such as Qom. They include areas with large numbers of minorities such as Kurds in Kermanshah and Arabs in Ahvaz, as well as those in the Persian heartland. On Saturday night and Sunday, the protests also spread to Bandar Abbas on the southern coast and to the Kurdish region's cities of Ilam, Baneh and Sanandaj.

The protestors have not been motivated by the speeches or actions of any political person or group. The protests have been spontaneous but seem to be well organized, which means foreign hands are stirring up trouble in Iran. So they are giving Iran a touch of the medicine that Iran has dished out in the Middle East.

With the coming of 2018, now Iranian leaders have to do some deep thinking. Either they appease their own people or they continue financing subversion abroad. Yet, they have to remember that they can halt the current protests with an iron fist but as long as they don't erase the reasons for it, they will never survive.

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