Death toll rises in violent Iran demonstrations

Lester Mason
January 13, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been tweeting in support of protesters in Iran, continued into the new year, describing the country as "failing at every level despite the awful deal made with them by the Obama administration".

Iranians in other cities plan to rally for the government on Thursday and Tehran residents will come out in support of Iran's regime on Friday.

Conservatives including Graham have stressed that America is not the "enemy" of ordinary Iranians - echoing the stance of the United States president who has kept up a steady stream of tweets in support of the protesters.

The protests are the biggest in Iran since 2009, when demonstrators called for the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president after what they regarded as his fraudulent re-election.

The United States has, meanwhile, piled pressure on Iran, with Trump pledging to help Iranians "take back" their government.

"Why should they arrest someone like me when I protest the rise of the price of eggs?" he said.

The Associated Press has described the protests - which started in Mashhad, Iran's second most populous city situated some 550 miles from Tehran - as being driven by public frustration over the nation's weak economy and a recent jump in food prices. Now, they've morphed into demands for wholesale change in Iran's theocratic government. There is no evidence the money was used to enrich government officials.

A more aggressive follow up could be to stretch the mullahs to the brink by ramping up military opposition to Iran's proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Ariannejad said he always tells his relatives to stay away from any violence if they take part in the protests.

Nine people were killed as fresh unrest hit Iran overnight, state television said on Tuesday, with protesters trying to storm a police station despite attempts to crack down on the biggest demonstrations in years.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused the country's "enemies" of fomenting violent antigovernment demonstrations that have killed at least 22 people, including a police officer, in the biggest challenge to authorities in nearly a decade. Protestors have now taken issue with President Hassan Rouhani and the country's leaders for their failure to deliver economic growth after worldwide sanctions were lifted following Obama's nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump said Iran had squandered the country's wealth "to fund terrorism abroad".

Trump was apparently referring to the Obama administration's unfreezing of certain Iranian assets and payment of a cash settlement related to a legal claim on those assets that was negotiated in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal.

"You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!" he tweeted, without offering any specifics.

Hundreds have been arrested, according to officials and social media.

Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "we wish that peace in the country is maintained as soon as possible and common sense prevails to prevent the escalation of the events".

She said that some of this growth can be expected to continue for at least the next two years, and highlighted Iran's increased oil imports, from less than a million barrels per day in 2014 to recent numbers of around 2.5 million barrels daily. The new protests are largely leaderless, organized; BuzzFeed's Borzou Daraghi them as apparently "unheedful of and untethered to any of Iran's political factions or civil society streams". President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged the public's anger over Iran's flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn't hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers. Rouhani's office did not mention the comment.

"Today we can announce the end of the 2018 sedition", Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said on its website, adding that the number of protesters "did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide". Since the protests erupted last week, Iran has curbed some social media services like Instagram and Telegram.

Meanwhile, a video has appeared on Twitter showing "two police officers who made a decision to join demonstrators".

Iran's demographics are tilted toward the young, many of whom are seen as frustrated by the limited opportunities, the country's relative isolation and the older, hard-line religious leaders who have been in power for decades.

How serious are the protests?

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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