Support the protesters in Iran

Protesters gather in Tehran as unrest spreads across Iran

Popular demonstrations ignited by smoldering resentment about Iran's mismanaged economy has quickly escalated to political denunciations of Tehran's rulers.

Iranian Ambassador to the U.N., Gholamali Khoshroo, hit out after Trump unleashed a series of tweets backing protesters, saying Iran is "failing at every level" and declaring that it is "time for change" in the Islamic Republic.

"Iran is failing at every level despite the bad deal made with them by the Obama Administration", he wrote Monday. 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. They are hungry for food & for freedom.

Have we seen such protests before?

Despite claims by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that they were instigated by foreign "enemies", the protests that erupted in that country last week seem to be home-grown and motivated by dissatisfaction with high prices, unemployment and a corrupt ruling elite.

Social media videos purport to show clashes between protesters and police in several areas.

The current countrywide protests have rocked Iran, ever since people took to the streets on December 28 to demonstrate against rising prices and poor economic conditions. At least 21 people have been killed. "Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life will only be sacrificed for Iran", one chant reportedly went.Independent reports of the number of demonstrators and protest locations are hard to come by. A gunshot and muzzle flash could be seen in the footage taken in Isfahan province, where there have been days of protests. Despite now being able to sell oil on the worldwide market after the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran faces rising inflation and high unemployment. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman blamed on a cull over avian-flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

Iran 'tested by its own citizens': Haley
She said: "This is the precise picture of a long opressed people rising up against their dictators". The demonstrations are completely spontaneous.

However, protesters in Tehran chanted against high-ranking government officials and made other political statements, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. The reform movement was crushed. Iranian state television said Monday that security forces repelled "armed protesters" who tried to take over police stations and military bases, without elaborating. "The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. Public discontent is increasing. people are losing their faith in the establishment system", a third Iranian official said. The world is watching!

The protests highlight discontent with the lack of economic progress under President Rouhani, who was first elected on a reformist platform in 2013, promising to lead Iran out of its global isolation, guarantee greater freedoms and improve the economy.After Tehran and six major powers agreed on a deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, hopes were high that an end to the sanctions would end inequality.

Some of the new protests have specifically denounced the regime's extensive corruption and its costly involvement in regional conflicts, such as those in Syria and Iraq. But the person with the most to lose is President Hassan Rouhani.

"Clearly there is a very, very strong frustration among the population over the worsening economic situation", said Trita Parsi of National Iranian American Council.

"We all know that's complete nonsense", said Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations. But the protests might soon be quelled, dissolve into competing camps led by rival leaders, or be hijacked by hostile anti-Western forces, as numerous Arab Spring revolts were hijacked. There would be no support for them from Washington, he indicated.

James Phillips is the senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

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