Social injustice that has been simmering for years has of late been boiling over into anger, bringing strife for governments from Hong Kong to Bolivia to Spain. Iran is the latest, an increase in fuel prices prompting protesters onto streets nationwide to chant slogans, block highways and loot and burn banks and shops. President Hassan Rowhani claims that security forces have brought an end to the unrest, the worst since the Islamic Republic turned its back on an international nuclear deal after US counterpart Donald Trump withdrew and reimposed crippling economic sanctions. But cracking down on dissent will not resolve the deep-seated grievances; only by re-engaging with the world can a lasting solution be found. A shutting down of the internet to prevent demonstrators communicating on social media makes an independent assessment of the scale of the unrest difficult. The human rights group Amnesty International claims more than 100 people have been killed by security forces since last week, although the official toll is dramatically lower. Protests against the hardline regime are not unusual, nor is social and labour unrest. The nation’s economy began recovering after the pact to curb its nuclear weapons programme was signed in 2015, but Trump’s decision last year has brought sharp reversals. Inflation has risen to 40 per cent, a quarter of young people are unemployed and the International Monetary Fund has estimated gross domestic product will shrink by 9.5 per cent. Saudi king attacks Iran’s ‘harmful’ expansion following street protests Oil exports, the country’s economic driver, have been particularly hard hit by the sanctions, plunging from 2.8 million barrels a day in May last year to below 500,000. Economic grievances are also behind protests in Lebanon and neighbouring Iraq that, as in Iran, have turned into movements to overthrow the government. Tehran’s leaders have resorted to their usual strategy, branding the demonstrators as counter-revolutionaries linked to foreign enemies the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and using force to silence the demonstrators. But that is no way to deal with economic, social and political problems. Easing tensions with the US by opening talks on the nuclear deal is a necessary starting point.