Currency drop: On Sunday, the Iranian rial hit a record low, dropping from 97,500 to 112,000 against the U.S. dollar (Reuters). The plunge was due to a first set of U.S. sanctions snapping back on August 6. After Trump suggested that he would meet with his Iranian counterpart with “no preconditions,” the rial bounced back to 104,000 after it traded at 117,000 on Monday (Bloomberg). The Iranian rial has lost about 20 percent of its value during the past week and 80 percent of its value in the past year. The IRGC called on the Iranian president to do more to prop up the Iranian currency (Bloomberg). In an open letter published by Tasnim News Agency, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, “The unique and extensive backing you benefited from in past weeks should not preclude you from taking revolutionary actions to control prices and prevent the enormous increase in the price of foreign currency and gold.” Parliament plans to question Rouhani about his administration’s economic policy and how it’s responding to the ongoing crisis (Radio Farda).
More protests: According to videos posted on social media, Iranians are taking to the streets to protest the government and the country’s economic problems, including high prices, inflation, and unemployment. Several hundred Iranians have staged a second day of protests in Esfahan, Iran’s third-largest city (VOA). Videos verified by VOA Persian showed protesters chanting slogans: “The silence of any Iranian is a betrayal against the country” and “Khamenei, have some shame. Free the country.” Protesters also gathered in the city of Rasht and the Gohar Dasht area in Karaj (Radio Farda). One video shows at least one police motorcycle had been set on fire. In other videos, protesters are chanting, “Oh Iranians, it’s enough—defend your honor” and “Death to the dictator.” On the third day, protests spread to Mashhad, Shiraz, and the capital (RFE/RL). Some videos show a large anti-riot police presence. There are reports indicating that plainclothes agents had resorted to violence.
Green Movement leaders to be freed? Last week, a rumor circulated that the Green Movement leaders would be released after seven years of house arrest (Atlantic Council). The trio—Mir-Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi—have been under house arrest since early 2011 for leading the 2009 post-election protests known as the Green Movement. Karroubi’s son, Hossein, claimed that a “reliable source” said the Supreme National Security Council had ruled in favor of releasing the trio, and that if the Supreme Leader did not block the motion, their house arrest would be lifted. However, when a reformist member of parliament enquired of Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani of the ruling, the speaker said no decision had been made.