Iranian worshippers chant slogans during a rally against anti-government protestors after the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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Asking whether Iran's demonstrations create a "prerevolutionary" situation may miss the larger point.The Iranian protests have dramatized the contradictions that have been deepening since the 1979 Revolution – between aged theocratic rulers and a restless young country, between Iran's immense economic capabilities and its poor performance, and between its foreign adventures and domestic needs. Western governments are split about how vigorously to support the Iranian protesters.The West should urge Iranian protesters to remain peaceful (they're more likely to succeed that way) and also warn the regime that it will be held accountable for violence against its citizens.The West should also help keep communications open with Iran. With the world focused on the repressive, destabilizing nature of the Iranian regime, the Trump administration would be idiotic to shift the subject to the Iran nuclear agreement. Iran's leaders undoubtedly will blame America and its allies, regardless of what Trump and the Europeans say. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's supreme national security council, declared in a television interview this week, with spurious precision, that 27 percent to 29 percent of the protest hashtags were generated by the Saudi government.
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