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Winning Back the "Left Behind": Iran's New Nationalist Agenda


The January 2018 demonstrations have shown the frustration of Iran’s lower-middle-class youth with the economic situation of the country. While the street protests were relatively modest in size, the young poor represent the majority of the population. Given Iran’s difficult geopolitical predicament following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the rising tensions with Israel in Syria, the regime cannot afford to jeopardize its ability to mobilize this large section of the population in defence of the Islamic Republic. To address the challenge, the regime is promoting a narrative that emphasizes the uniqueness of Iran as a nation rather than its Islamic foundations. To spread this narrative the Iranian regime is using new instruments, including the use of Western-inspired rap music, a new movie industry imitating Hollywood blockbusters and a new use of social media by figures of the regime.