The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday that a string of anti-government protests were over after six days of unrest. In comments to the semiofficial Fars news agency, Mohammad Ali Jafari said that only 15,000 people had turned out at the height of the rallies and that the main "troublemakers" have been arrested.
U.S. President Donald Trump has signaled support for anti-government protests in Iran, but in two weeks he faces a decision on U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic that suddenly seems riskier than it did a week ago. The six days of demonstrations in several Iranian cities began over economic conditions, and Trump must decide by mid-January whether to continue waiving U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports under the terms of an international nuclear deal.
After some delay, the European Union has called the deaths of Iranians over nearly a week of protests “inexcusable,” but its members have so far pushed back against American efforts to issue a more full-throated, joint condemnation. The Europeans are especially anxious that President Trump may use the protests in Iran as a reason to reimpose United States economic sanctions on Iran, possibly killing the multilateral deal that limited the country’s nuclear program.
UANI IN THE NEWS
I would say the protests are going to linger. But they could go in a couple of different directions based upon events that are probably beyond anyone’s control, in terms of the extent of any uptick in protester violence and excessive force or missteps by security forces. I think that in terms of the regime itself, there is no indication that the size of the protests is sufficient to cause the regime to collapse, nor is there evidence that security forces are beginning to fall apart, refuse to obey orders, or join the protesters. Therefore the regime will likely linger, perhaps for years. But I think, in the end, Iran’s political and social fabric will have been changed by these events. This is the most dramatic unrest Iran has seen since 1979, and that is something that the regime will not be able to paint over.
[T]the lesson I draw from 2009 is that the United States should not be silent. The administration should matter-of-factly, without hype, take note of the protests and call attention to the economic grievances of the demonstrations, which are surely compounded by Iran’s adventurism in the Middle East. The protestors are asking why their money is spent in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza—and the administration should be putting out the estimates of what the Islamic republic is actually spending.
The protests sweeping Iran belie the once popular notion that the spirit of the Green Revolution that nearly toppled the Islamic Republic in 2009 has been extinguished. It is possible that an Islamist regime with little compunction about killing its own citizens will survive this latest challenge to its authority. Should it survive, the Iranian theocracy will not be the same, with the principal casualty of this week being the presidency of Hassan Rouhani. As the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his hardline disciples assess their predicament, they are likely to hunker down and insist on more repression at home… All this spells doom for the Republic of Virtue. The Islamic Republic is entering a period of prolonged transition where it will no longer be able to proffer a theocracy with a human face. In the end, Iran’s revolution is an impossible one, as it created a theocracy that cannot reform itself and accommodate the aspirations of its restless and youthful citizens. The tragedy of Ali Khamenei is that in consolidating his revolution, he is ensuring the eventual demise of his regime.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Stunning and important protests in Iran have rightly dominated the headlines in recent days, but another consequential moment is fast approaching for Iran and the West…. Since President Trump’s decision in October not to certify the Iran nuclear deal, Britain, France and Germany have sent a steady stream of emissaries to Washington to press the administration to delay or water down efforts to fix what it sees as a flawed agreement. There is a much more constructive way forward, however — if the Europeans can grab on to it before it evaporates.
The last administration’s refusal to act [during the 2009 Green Revolution] ultimately emboldened Iran’s tyrannical rulers to crack down on the dissent… Today, the Iranian people are once again rising up to demand freedom and opportunity, and under President Trump, the United States is standing with them. This time, we will not be silent.
The Iranian government has called on the messaging app Telegram to block "terrorist channels" in an effort to quell protests, according to the state-run media outlet IRIB. "If [the] Telegram manager does not respect Iranians' demand, the application will be closed completely," Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi said on Wednesday.
The White House plans to impose sanctions against Iranian regime forces responsible for a violent crackdown on protests, administration officials said Wednesday, as the president vowed to support Iranian demonstrators who have taken to the streets.
The White House has seized on anti-government protests rocking Iran as glittering vindication of its criticisms of the Obama administration’s approach to the leadership in Tehran. President Donald Trump and other senior administration figures are loudly cheering the Iranian demonstrators, sensing an opportunity for both an international win and a chance to make up for what they have long declared as one of President Barack Obama’s great failures.
President Donald Trump appeared to back a "fight" to overthrow of Iran’s theocracy by the growing ranks of protesters on Wednesday, only to delete the post a minute later and rephrase it using more diplomatic language—the latest controversial deletion for a president accused of violating laws to protect administration records.
Instead of continuing to protect the supreme leader and his tyrannical regime, the White House and Congress should move in a new direction — backing policies that hold the regime accountable and siding with the Iranian people.
The so-far leaderless protests have already exposed a major internal weakness of the Islamic Republic just as it enjoyed unprecedented regional sway, with significant military and political successes in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon following the defeat of Islamic State.
The working-class anger behind a week of unrest in Iran will pose an increasingly potent challenge to Tehran’s ruling clerics as economic and social pressures mount, even if the current protests peter out, analysts said Wednesday.
Anti-government protests continue across Iran after six days, and the ruling mullahs and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are threatening a crackdown that could get ugly. The world should support this fight for freedom, which is exposing the illusions about Iran that dominated the Obama Administration.
A Turkish banker was convicted of helping Iran evade U.S. financial sanctions in a verdict likely to further strain relations between Turkey and the U.S.
TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM
The head of Lebanon’s powerful Tehran-backed Hezbollah terror group said Wednesday he was confident protests in Iran would be brought under control and leave US President Donald Trump disappointed. “There is nothing to worry about and what happened in Iran is well contained,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview to Al-Mayadeen, a TV channel close to his movement.
Israel said on Wednesday it had cracked a Palestinian militant cell suspected of having been recruited and handled by Iranian intelligence officers who worked out of South Africa, but the suspects’ lawyer denied the charges.
United Nations human rights experts called on Iran to spare the life of a man, due to be executed on Thursday, who was convicted of raping and killing a child when he was a juvenile. Amirhossein Pourjafar, who was 16 when he was sentenced to death in September 2016, a year after the crime, is among more than 80 youths known to be on death row in the Islamic Republic.