Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Iran's unrest could hurt clerics, but Rouhani has most to lose

Iran's unrest could hurt clerics, but Rouhani has most to lose

The strength of protests shaking Iran was unclear on Thursday after a week of unrest that killed at least 21 people, with fewer reports of demonstrations as government supporters again took to the streets in several cities and towns.

Demonstrators carrying national flags and portraits of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are protesting against the unrest, which began in the Islamic Republic last week, the agency reported. "The enemy is always looking for an opportunity and any crevice to infiltrate and strike the Iranian nation". Iranian govt should respect their people's rights, including right to express themselves.

However, he was likely referring the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and People's Mujahedeen (MEK), a France-based opposition group.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. Macron said he was anxious about "the number of victims from the demonstrations" and called for respect the right to protest and freedom of expression.

The Iran nuclear deal of 2015 unfroze billions of dollars in Iranian assets that will enrich government officials, but the people continue to lack true democracy or prosperity. Some videos circulated online show protesters welcoming police officers and demonstrating peacefully.

Iran also accused the United States of inflaming and inciting the protests.

More than 450 protesters have been arrested in the capital in the last three days, Tehran's deputy provincial governor said, and hundreds of others were detained around the country.

This time, however, President Trump is supporting the Iranian people.

"Iran is failing at every level despite the bad deal made with them by the Obama administration", Mr Trump tweeted yesterday, referring to the 2015 nuclear pact sealed under his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

United States secondary sanctions and threats to pull out of the nuclear deal despite Tehran's compliance have contributed to Iran not fully benefiting from the nuclear deal.

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Khamenei said on his website that he would address the nation about the events "when the time is right".

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, said Mr Trump should focus on "the domestic issues of his own country, such as daily killings of dozens of people. and the existence of millions of homeless and hungry people".

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi slammed on Tuesday the US president for his rude comments, saying he should address his own country's problems instead of interfering in other countries.

However, Rouhani said that the aim of these protests should be to improve the situation in the country and people's lives.

What are the protests about? .

Analysts have suggested hardliners in Mashhad organized the protests against their rival Rouhani, but that the protests then unexpectedly spread into a backlash against the entire regime. They also appear to be leaderless and driven in large part by poorer sections of society, angry about high unemployment, soaring prices and financial scandals.

Pro-regime demonstrations denouncing the 2009 Green Movement leaders also may have provoked a political backlash.

The past week's protests have been the largest in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election, which ended in bloodshed.

Have we seen such protests before?

Protests have remained confined to relatively small pockets of mostly young male demonstrators who are demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime.

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