Background to the operation
As it comes under increasing pressure from the United States, the Islamic Republic of Iran is currently facing the issue of strengthening its regional influence. Through the support of multiple militia groups, it has established itself as the ascendant, even dominant, power in the Middle East. Yet, it has also fuelled popular protests against its Lebanese and Iraqi proxies as well as directly in Iran. Indeed, the financial effort that Tehran is demanding from its population, as well as the climate of insecurity and corruption that it maintains in the countries where its allies operate, generate considerable resentment. This has been further aggravated by the regime’s negligence regarding the management of the Ukrainian Boeing crash. While the elimination of Qassem Soleimani on the 3rd of January seemed to momentarily strengthen popular support for the regime, the destruction of the plane has rekindled tensions stemming from the deterioration of the economic situation, which is reflected in the rise in fuel prices. Thus, these events reveal a situation of growing polarization within the Iranian population, as evidenced by several cases of civil disobedience.