In a matter of days, protests in Iran have quickly spread across the country, taking the government by surprise and leaving analysts and pundits alike confused. Part of the reason many have been caught off guard is because these protests appear quite different from their 2009 predecessor—in terms of size, leadership and objective.
But another reason is that the drivers of these protests are from a segment of the population that has rarely figured into Iran's political developments in the past two decades—those who never believed or have lost hope in the idea of real change through reform.
Similarities between the current protests and the 2009 uprising are quite limited. While the current demonstrations started outside of Tehran—in Mashhad and Qom—and quickly spread to other cities, their size remains relatively small compared to what the world observed after Iran's fraudulent 2009 elections.