Iranian Anti-Government Demonstrations Appear to Wane

Demonstrations against the Iranian government seem to be subsiding.

Anti-government protests appeared to wane Thursday in Iran, with government leaders now faced with trying to improve economic conditions that spawned a week of demonstrations that claimed 21 lives.

General Abdolrahim Mousavin, the head of the army, thanked security forces for “putting out the fire of sedition.” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said that across the nation 42,000 people had taken part in the protests.

State television on Thursday showed huge crowds in 10 cities marching in support of Iranian leaders, including in Isfahan, Ardebil, and Mashhad, where the protests started.

An adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “The revolutionary Iranian people have responded in time to the enemies and trouble-makers by coming out on the streets.”

But the adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, told the semi-official ISNA news agency, “The people’s main demand now is for the government and officials to deal with the economic problems.”

Critics of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani say he has abandoned the poor by trying to raise fuel prices, which he said was necessary to fight unemployment. But parliament appears likely to reject his fuel price hike.

Nasser Laregani, vice-president of the economic affairs commission, said, “The population can no longer support a hike in petrol prices. In the current situation, where people are confronted with such a range of daily, economic problems, such a raise is an error.”

Will the U.S. impose new sanctions on Iran?

Meanwhile, in Washington, a White House official said the U.S. would look for “actionable information” to try to impose new sanctions against those responsible for the crackdown on dissent. Iranian officials arrested hundreds of protesters in the last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump several times tweeted his support for the demonstrators, saying Wednesday, “Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!”

Trump is faced next week with a decision on whether to continue to waive sanctions against Iran that were suspended under the 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons development. Trump has repeatedly attacked the agreement and assailed Tehran’s military actions in Syria, Iran, and Yemen.

Top Iranian leaders, including Khamenei, have blamed foreign governments for driving the protests.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Gholamali Khoshroo, sent a letter Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council and U.N. chief Antonio Guterres saying that in “numerous absurd tweets” Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence were “inciting Iranians to engage in disruptive acts.”

“The current U.S. administration has crossed every limit in flouting rules and principles of international law governing the civilized conduct of international relations,” Khoshroo wrote.

Trump is faced next week with a decision on whether to continue to waive sanctions against Iran that were suspended under the 2015 international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons development. Trump has repeatedly attacked the agreement and assailed Tehran’s military actions in Syria, Iran, and Yemen.

Iranian Officials Blame Foreign Governments for Unrest

Top Iranian leaders, including Khamenei, have blamed foreign governments for driving the protests.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Gholamali Khoshroo, sent a letter Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council and U.N. chief Antonio Guterres saying that in “numerous absurd tweets” Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence were “inciting Iranians to engage in disruptive acts.”

“The current U.S. administration has crossed every limit in flouting rules and principles of international law governing the civilized conduct of international relations,” Khoshroo wrote.

In Geneva, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also emphasized the right of Iranians to have their complaints heard and called for all deaths and serious injuries to be investigated. He urged authorities to “handle the wave of protests that have taken place around the country with great care so as not to further inflame violence and unrest.”

The protests are the biggest outpouring of public discontent with Iran’s clerical leaders since 2009 protests against the results of a disputed presidential election.

James Jeffrey, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former diplomat, said the current unrest is not likely to result in an overthrow of the Iranian government but still amounts to a significant problem.

“The underlying sentiment is broadly shared in the population,” Jeffrey told VOA. “They have no participation in the economic growth of the country, they see their country involved in all of these foreign adventures in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, you name it, and they don’t see any benefit to them of that.”

Via VOA
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