The campaign period for the upcoming parliamentary elections officially ended on Thursday, February 20, at 08:00 (local time), amid calls from university students to boycott the elections.
Students have held occasional protests in the lead-up to the vote, scheduled to take place on Friday, February 21, during which they've called on the public to sit out on the election using the social media hashtag #BoycottIranShamElections to demonstrate their opposition. Said opposition comes months after two waves of anti-government protests and violence against participants.
Due to rising tensions between the United States and Iran in Iraq over the last two months, issues surrounding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iranian nuclear deal, and several domestic issues including the state of the economy and anti-government protests, a lot is at stake. Continued protests remain possible at polling stations and universities on the day of elections. A heightened security presence is to be expected in the vicinity of any protest.
Iranian state TV claimed Tehran fired "tens" of surface-to-surface missiles at two US bases in Iraq as revenge for the January 3 killing of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, was targeted in a US airstrike near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on January 3. According to a statement from the US Department of Defense, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Iranian state TV claimed Tehran fired "tens" of surface-to-surface missiles at two US bases in Iraq as a response.
Further, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced on January 11 that a Ukrainian Airlines plane was shot down by a Revolutionary Guards missile, killing all 176 passengers onboard. This launched several days of anti-government protests due to the alleged coverup.
Individuals in Iran are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all large public gatherings as a precaution, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media.
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