December 14, 2022
Iran Crisis Update, December 14
December 14, 5:00 pm ET
The Iran Crisis Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Crisis Updates via email, please subscribe here.
The Iranian economy appears to be entering a period of potentially significant disruption. Protester coordinators and other social media users have called on Iranians to urgently withdraw their bank account savings and buy gold in recent days.[i] Social media accounts reported many Iranians doing so on December 14, although CTP cannot verify this reported bank run nor is it prepared to assess the scale.[ii] These reports coincide with the continued devaluation of the Iranian rial, which hit a new all-time low of around 385,000 to the US dollar on December 14.[iii] A public relations official in the Raisi administration acknowledged that the protests have increased economic uncertainty and thus fueled this fiscal crisis.[iv]
Iranian media has reported an uptick in some business executives and officials resigning or being arrested or fired in recent weeks. These executives include prominent individuals in the construction, financial services, and steel industries.[v] The Raisi administration replaced the Central Bank of Iran official responsible for the foreign exchange department on December 14 as well.[vi] At least some of these changes are likely tied to the fiscal crisis.
CTP is not prepared to assess how this fiscal crisis may affect the Iranian economy or whether the regime will successfully manage it. This crisis may nevertheless encourage protest coordinators and organizations to consider further strikes and other means of economic pressure against the regime.
President Ebrahim Raisi met with officials from the Khatam ol Anbia Construction Headquarters on December 14, likely to discuss cooperation toward addressing the fiscal crisis.[vii] This headquarters is a prominent civil engineering and construction firm controlled directly by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). It is involved in large swaths of the Iranian economy, including but not limited to port services, oil and gas, drilling, construction, telecommunications, and financial services.
UN Economic and Social Council member states voted to expel Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women on December 14. Twenty-nine members voted in favor, sixteen abstained, and eight voted against the US-backed resolution.[viii] US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that the resolution signaled that the international community would hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses while expressing solidarity with Iranian women and girls, stating: “we are here for you, we’ve got your back, and we’re going to stand with you.”[ix] Several regime actors and state-affiliated outlets condemned the vote and criticized the US for “imposing its will” on other nations.[x] Social media users documented Saghez, Kurdistan Province residents and other Iranians in undisclosed locations celebrating the UN vote.[xi]
- The Iranian economy appears to be entering a period of potentially significant disruption.
- UN member states voted to expel Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
- At least one protest occurred.
- Social media users circulated calls for countrywide strikes and protests on December 19, 20, and 21.
- Iran-affiliated leadership from Lebanon and Iraq met in Baghdad.
At least one protest occurred on December 14. Limited protest activity aligns with limited calls for anti-regime demonstrations on December 14; CTP did not observe significant calls to protest or strike on this date. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:
Tehran City, Tehran Province[xii]
- Size: Small
- Protester Activity: Chanted anti-regime slogans
Social media users circulated calls for countrywide strikes and protests on December 19, 20, and 21.[xiii] Social media users specifically called on merchants, truck drivers, and doctors to participate in strikes on these dates. These reports coincide with the Shiraz Neighborhood Youth’s call for strikes and anti-regime demonstrations from December 17-21.[xiv]
Hardline Parliamentarian Mostafa Mir Salim expressed support for death sentences and executions for arrested protesters on December 14. Mir Salim additionally advocated to decrease the length of time between arrest and execution to 10 days.[xv]
Axis of Resistance and Regional Developments
Israel conducted an airstrike on an IRGC weapons shipment in eastern Syria on December 14.[xvi] Local sources reportedly heard three explosions in the vicinity of an IRGC training center while fighter jets were identified flying in the area.[xvii] Israel Times Channel 12 released a report claiming that IRGC forces delivered a weapons shipment to the training center on the morning of December 14.[xviii]
Iran-affiliated leadership from Lebanon and Iraq met in Baghdad on December 14.[i] The Director General of Lebanese General Security Major General Abbas Ibrahim
reportedly met with Iraqi and Iranian-proxy leadership, as well as some non-Iran aligned individuals, to discuss cooperation and aid to Lebanon.
[ii] https://twitter.com/Hashshaashin/status/1603131392086446080; https://twitter.com/mhlii3/status/1603029739383537665; https://twitter.com/Hashshaashin/status/1603006637744492544
[iii] www.bonbast dot com/historical/usd/2022/12
[v] https://www.tabnak dot ir/fa/news/1154262; https://www.bourse24 dot ir/news/258645; https://donya-e-eqtesad dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D9%88%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%87-%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-63/3925394-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82-%D9%81%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%A9%D9%87
[vi] https://www.asriran dot com/fa/news/869974
[vii] https://president dot ir/fa/141359
[x] https://nournews.ir/Fa/News/120704 ; https://twitter.com/alibahaadori/status/1603088908488687616?s=20&t=vZ7rWqlls6sc1r40gDSXXw ; https://twitter.com/Iran_UN/status/1603077011572133889
[xi] https://twitter.com/1500tasvir/status/1603083555680264194?s=20&t=U7AFH5oB1vZ5tLjjXDbGOQ ; https://twitter.com/iranwire/status/1603134228358643712?s=20&t=U7AFH5oB1vZ5tLjjXDbGOQ
[xiii] https://twitter.com/Javanmardi75/status/1603033922924937218?s=20&t=8YRa8lkIjc_ef9zqKYyXxg ; https://twitter.com/RADOCLUB/status/1602001756409446401?s=20&t=gKIJpLHhyl49x0Y7HAsxRw ; https://twitter.com/OfficialToomaj/status/1602607267014213634?s=20&t=gKIJpLHhyl49x0Y7HAsxRw
[xv] https://www.moniban dot news/fa/tiny/news-126475