Anti-government protests are not very common in Iran. In fact, the last time Iran had demonstrations like these was in 2009, when reformist protesters clashed against establishment forces in a bloody, extended conflict which claimed dozens of lives. In the wake of these new protests, President Donald Trump voiced his strong support for the protesters and issued a stern warning to the Iran government via Twitter.
“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.”
He then stated, “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”
The president’s words were first spoken in his divisive 2017 United Nations speech, which also called for countries around the world to unite against the Iranian government’s “pursuit of death and destruction,” as well as accusing the country’s government of supporting terrorists.
Just yesterday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement blasting the Iranian regime for corruption and further supporting the protesters’ actions.
“There are many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves. The world is watching.” President Trump then echoed the White House’s statement in a tweet.
While the protests started due to economic pressures and high consumer prices, the demonstrators soon turned their attention to the corruption of the Iranian government itself. The Iranian government shows no signs of relenting to the demonstrators, however. Iran has warned its citizens against holding any “illegal public gatherings” after the protests began two days ago.
The protesters did not back down and have been met with heavy government and police opposition. BBC reports that at least two demonstrators in the western Iranian city of Dorud have been shot while participating in protests. While some reports state that these demonstrators have died, this news has not been confirmed due to the fact that most information on the protests is being collected through social media.
If the 2009 protests are any indication, these 2017 protests may just be in their very early stages. In 2009, the Iranian presidential election protests spanned more than seven months. The question is whether President Trump will push the United States to get involved in any way, or if it will influence his upcoming January decision on the Iran nuclear deal.