This footage shows protesters at a demonstration in the city of Rasht in northern Iran expressing their anger and frustration at the regime over the country’s spiralling financial crisis after more banks and finance houses declared bankruptcy in a blow to millions of citizens across the country; although all the financial institutions that have folded were state-backed, the regime has made no effort to compensate account-holders, many of whom lost their life savings.
Gathering outside the local headquarters of one of the affected banks, the protesters also voiced anger at the regime’s spending billions of Tomans on its regional wars while the domestic economy suffers, chanted slogans including “Rouhani, Rouhani, leave Syria, think of us!”
Some of the other chants at this and recent protests also include, “We have been running back and forth for the past ten months but heard only lies”, “Rouhani, Rouhani, let go of the U.S. and think about us”, “Rouhani, Rouhani, let go of Syria and think about us”, and “No to Syria, no to Lebanon, only the Iranian people.”
In the past two decades, regime officials had established a number of credit institutions which expanded to national networks. Since these bodies had political backing from the leadership, they were effectively immune from any legal investigation. Like other financial establishments, these bodies, which gave the appearance of being credible and trustworthy institutions, solicited custom and offered competitive services, quickly building up sizeable clienteles, with many members of the public trusting them due to their regime backing. This backing and the effective immunity from legal oversight which it provided, however, meant that the credit institutions’ proprietors and directors were able to effectively pillage their customers’ savings with regime protection.
The worst offender among the credit institutions which have collapsed was the Caspian Credit Institution, which was closely tied to Iran’s infamous Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and to the office of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. These high-level connections allowed it to obtain the necessary licenses from the state-run Central Bank without any investigation.
More than 5,000 such institutions have been approved by the IRGC and other regime organs. Benefiting from intensive advertising and marketing campaigns broadcast on and published in multiple state media, the credit institutions made their connection to the state-run Central Bank a primary selling point to underline their credibility and boost consumer confidence in their trustworthiness among prospective customers.
This means that the recent spate of bank closures and string of bankruptcies which is a strong indicator of the worsening economic crisis in the country, is doubly bad news for the regime, undermining its credibility with the public at a time when it relies on presenting an image of popularity and stability in its efforts to attract international investors. As usual in Iran, the image presented by the regime is nothing to do with the reality.
The regime’s desperation can be seen in the typically brutal and indiscriminate attacks by regime personnel on the crowds participating in demonstrations over the bank closures in an effort to disperse the protesters, with the regime security forces’ brutality still insufficient to prevent larger and larger demonstrations by disgruntled citizens in cities across the country, also including Tehran, Ahwaz and Isfahan, amongst others.
Many in Iran suspect that the economic crisis is the latest sign that the theocratic regime, like Khamenei, who is suffering from terminal cancer, is on its last legs.