Just this Friday, thousands took to the streets to express their discontent with their government. According to the BBC, that a White House Statement noted that Iranians were fed up with “the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism.” This is the largest demonstration in Iran since the nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009. The Iranians’ grievances stem from their anger against Iran’s strict clerical rule and concern about the Islamic Republic’s costly involvement in regional conflicts, such as those in Syria and Iraq.
ABC reported that about 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah, in the country’s west, after what local media described a “call by the anti-revolution.” For instance, protestors shouted anti-government slogans, such as “never mind Palestine, think about us,” “death or freedom,” and “political prisoners should be freed.” The protests in Kermanshah on Friday took place a day after hundreds rallied in Mashhad. The head of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, Hasan Heidari, told semi-official news agency, Fars, that 52 protesters were arrested over their “illegal” gathering on Thursday. Meanwhile, demonstrations also broke out in Tehran and similar arrests took place under the heavy police presence in the capital.
Furthermore, the Iranian government’s actions have been condemned by the U.S. State Department as they urged “all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.” U.S. President Donald Trump also emphasized via Twitter that the “Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including [the] right to express themselves” and ended off by warning that “the world is watching.”
That being said, in 2016, the State Department released its report on global terrorist activity, listing Iran as the top state sponsor of terrorism and labelled ISIS as being “the greatest threat globally.” Iran has also been experiencing double-digit inflation on top of their accumulated budget deficit. The government’s inefficiency, big size, and rising expenditures, which are all blamed for the deficit.
Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, stated that he “want[ed] to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed. ” He also gave his unsolicited advice to President Trump, telling him to “keep quiet and do nothing.” He explained that his condemning tweets were on Friday were more than enough.
On one hand, the Iranian government, which is notorious for their human rights abuses and funding of terrorism, and the public condemnation of it will weaken its support base and influence. However, the now bloody protests may cause unnecessary bloodshed and turmoil in a place that is already beset by chaos. That said, it is too early at this stage to decide what the international community should be doing.
However, one this is clear: the world is watching.
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