Tags: Cybersecurity | Iran | inflation | sanctions | unemployment | vpn

Iran's Youth Could Be Catalyst for Regime Change

iran youth

(Sezer Ozger/Dreamstime)

By Thursday, 01 August 2019 03:57 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Iranian youth works very hard to break through their government's block of the nternet.

The Iranian government has shut down almost all forms of contact and any access to the West with the Internet (the World Wide Web  — aka: www).

The Web they are permitted and advised to use, the Iranian Web, is nothing but a cheap facsimile of the original www.

Iranians who want to jump on the West's www — and there are a lot of them — have gone to great lengths to engage in an end run around their government.

They're spending long hours attempting to bypass governmental blocks.

One method they have found is through Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

Teens, tweens, and 20- and 30-somethings from Iran use VPNs to artificially make it appear as if the user were elsewhere, somewhere other than the land of the verboten www.

For example, let's say you live in Teheran. When you go online, you access a VPN, but  it indicates you are in Los Angeles. The Iranian can now surf the net, and no one will know.

It sounds so simple to do, but the bigger problem is that VPNs are overloaded.

So many people want to get on, that it can take an hour before you can even begin.

And that number of users can cause servers to slow, bouncing-off users with appreciable frequency. 

Yet, the Iranian leadership does not have the same restrictions imposed on them, as are imposed on citizens. Both Iran's president and foreign minister tweet constantly.

Even the supreme leader, or at least the supreme leader's office, tweets regularly.

Why not simply use the Iranian www if getting on the World Wide Web is such a headache?

The answer to that question is as simple as it is desperate. Iranians use the Internet because they want to learn what is happening in the West, and that's a good sign.

That cannot occur under the watchful and restricting eye of their leadership.

Iranian youth not only have to deal with computer stress, they also live under economic stressors. The official unemployment rate in Iran is 12%. A pretty high percentage for a developed nation.  Yet that number makes sense when you realize that Iran is facing a shrinking exports, courtesy of the U.S. sanctions.

Thus, some of Iran's longest standing and most important industries, like Persian carpets and Persian textiles, not to mention oil and high-tech, have taken tremendous hits.

The youth of Iran have been hit terribly by the unemployment. If the country's unemployment rate is 12%, youth unemployment is 28%, more than double the official number.

It's so bad that even the masters of spin and secrecy cannot hide the problem.

Official government figures show how real problems are for Iran. Twenty-eight percent  unemployment for Iran's youth actually means that university graduates can't find jobs, especially coveted tech jobs in the general marketplace.

The primary employer in Iran has become its government. While it is a significant way of injecting money into society, it's never a healthy indicator of a growing economy.

All the more so with respect to Iran.

Once upon a time, not too very long ago, one of the largest industries in Iran was the metal industry — from mining to production. Today 10% of Iran's 22 millin workers are in the metal industry; that industry make up most of Iran's factories.

There are 8,840 mines in Iran.

Those mines produce iron, cooper, and aluminum.

According to the US Department of Commerce, they produce 25 million tons of steel annually, exported to Thailand, Iraq, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

As impressive as those numbers might sound, the industry today is just a shell of its former self. And it is getting worse.

The currency of Iran currency is the rial and, like many other aspects of the Iranian economy, U.S. sanctions against Iran have hurt its treasury.

In order to survive the tremendous inflation they are suffering, Iranian leadership has decided to lop off four zeroes from the rial. Imagine how high inflation is if you can just lop off not one or two or even three, but four zeroes.

That announcement was made this week by an Iranian government spokesman.

In U.S. terms that means $10,000 would immediately equal one dollar.

To get a sense of what has happened to the rial and to Iran's economy, look at the rial over the past 4 years.

In 2015 one dollar was worth 32,000 rials.

Today the official exchange rate is 120,000 rials to one dollar.

Iran's inflation is so high, we have no idea how high it really is. There are official inflation numbers of 50.4%, but we know those numbers aren't accurate. Unofficial numbers put Iran's inflation at hyper inflation percentage as being over 50%.

The previous official inflation rate was 52.1%, but that's just another example of a corrupt government at work. In the heat of devastating sanctions against them, Iranian leadership really believes that the world will believe that their inflation rate has officially dropped by 2%.

Iran is suffering and the group most hurt under the current situation, its youth. 

History has shown us that youth are the bulwark of every revolution in the modern world.

How much more can Iranian youth take?

Their frustration and unemployment may just be the foundation for a future uprising against Iran's oppressive leadership.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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Teens, tweens, and 20- and 30-somethings from Iran use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to artificially make it appear as if the user were located somewhere else, somewhere other than the land of the verboten www.
inflation, sanctions, unemployment, vpn
Thursday, 01 August 2019 03:57 PM
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