A top US intelligence official has predicted that the nationwide strikes in Iran will gradually expand to become a greater threat to the Islamic Republic.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Saturday said the Iranian government does not consider the current protests as an “imminent threat to the regime.”
In an interview with NBC News, Haines added that Iranian authorities may not see the demonstrations as a threat now but could face more unrest because of high inflation and economic uncertainty.
“We’re not seeing the regime perceive this as an imminent threat to their stability and effect,” she said. “On the other hand … they are really having challenges and even nationwide seeing sporadic close-downs of businesses, [which] from our perspective, that’s one of those things that will lead to a greater risk of unrest and instability over time.”
The popular protests demanding an end to Islamic rule started in mid-September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed in the custody of the so-called “morality police,” igniting the boldest protest movement against the Islamic Republic in its 43-year history.
Over 18,000 people have been arrested since the beginning of the protests, and some death sentences have already been issued for protesters, though none have been carried out. According to US-based HRANA on December 4, 471 protestors and 61 members of the security forces have been killed in protests since September 17.