ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian shop owners on Monday closed their stores as part of yet another country-wide general strike as the Islamic Republic’s economy continues to decline amid renewed US sanctions.
In the past few days, calls for a nationwide strike to be launched on Oct. 8 – National Student Day – were amplified online by users on local social media outlets.
Users posted footage of shop owners and businesses partaking in the strike in various cities across the country, including Mashhad, Borazjan, Kermanshah, Gorgan, Zanjan, Baneh, Marivan, Arak, and Saqqez, and even spreading to the main market in the capital city of Tehran.
A source from Rojhilat told Kurdistan 24 that most stores and businesses in the cities of Sanandaj (Sina), Saqqez, and Baneh, had been closed down as part of the strike.
People have decided to go on strike due to the instability of the prices of goods and worsening living conditions, the source added.
In the past year, the Islamic Republic has been engulfed in a series of national demonstrations, including the Tehran storeowners’ strikes, protests against the forced veil, and the truck drivers’ strikes.
This is the second major form of public demonstration affecting the country as a whole in the past year, keeping in mind strikes and protests that took place in at least 96 cities at the end of 2017 and the early months of 2018.
Protesters initially complained about economic woes plaguing the country and the lagging - at times non-existent - response from Tehran to address the issues.
However, as the demonstrations engulfed the whole country, the narrative shifted to include criticism of Iran’s clerical and theocratic rule. Some protesters went so far as to call for the dismantling of the government and carried slogans of “Death to the Dictator,” a reference to the country’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In May, public anger over issues, such as the loss of purchasing power, reached a critical point as the country’s economy suffered a devastating blow from the US announcing its withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal designed to limit the regime’s military ambitions.
Three months later, the US decided to renew a set of sanctions on Tehran, limiting the country’s economic activities, with another set expected to come into effect in November, targeting the country’s oil and financial sector.
With the shift in US policy toward the regime, Iran’s rial has lost at least two-thirds of its value, with new record lows seen every month and only occasional minor rebounds.
On Sep. 12, another large strike occurred, this time only affecting Rojhilati cities. The episode was in response to Iran’s execution of three Kurdish activists and cross-border missile attacks on the headquarters of Rojhilati opposition groups.
Editing by Nadia Riva