Contested by youth, Iranian regime is turning more than ever to China and Russia

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By Muslim Mirror Desk

Doctoral researcher, specialist in Iran working on the recomposition of interstate balances in the Middle East and Central Asia, Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP)


Paris, Dec 3 (The Conversation) Observers hold their breath. The social movement that has shaken Iran since September 16, 2022 is of such magnitude that specialists are petrified. Everyone is waiting. Everyone recognises that something unprecedented is happening in Iran, behind closed doors, and that the courage shown by the protesters is unprecedented.

Who are these protesters, what is their relationship to the theocratic Iranian state, and what impact can their uprising have on the foreign policy of a beleaguered regime?

The rebellious generation, born at the turn of the year 2000, is thirsty for freedom. It is so much so that it seems ready to assume the consequences of an insurrection against the regime in Tehran: a violent repression which has resulted in 448 deaths and some 15,000 arrests at the time of this writing.

Unlike its elders (more fearful of the consequences of an insurrection against the regime, and whose uprisings, like the 2009 Green Movement , were still within the political framework of the Islamic Republic), this young generation is ready to pay a heavy price in the name of its ideals.

The impact of social networks on his ability to be connected with the world, and thus to perceive the “disconnection” of his daily life, strewn with prohibitions, compared to the freedoms enjoyed by his peers elsewhere on the planet, is undoubtedly the one of the main explanations for this generational break.

of stability in the eyes of the member countries of the SCO, and particularly China, which oversees the entire process of establishing this “post-Western” international order .

Tested by four decades of isolation but still in place, the Tehran regime, once a “pariah” for the West as for the East, is proving, in view of the current geopolitical circumstances, to be a respectable and worthy partner for a much of the Eurasian continent.

Towards Chinese-style social control?

But what about the interaction between this geopolitical reorientation and the protest movement? For now, the two trajectories are evolving separately.

The popular uprising emerges from a generational and secular transition, in a bottom-up movement .

Conversely, the “looking east” policy is only a priority for the regime, which has every interest in strengthening its ties with China and Russia, both for geopolitical considerations and because of the prospects that enhanced collaboration with these countries in the field of new technologies (artificial intelligence, facial recognition, predictive algorithms, etc.) is likely to offer in the face of the risk of internal destabilization.

An air of “Chinese-style” social control hovers over Iran . The fact remains that a system of social control, however effective it may be, can only be effective if it arouses the fear of the population. However, in Iran, the wall of fear seems to be crumbling little by little.


  1. The IRANIAN people have the spirit of KARBALA & have sacrificed a great deal for Islam. Unfortunately a single tribe cannot easily survive when the DICTATORIAL leaders of brothers collude with the greater foes. WESTOXIFICATION & the inability to join global MUSLIM youth gaining aspiration & jobs is hurting.


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