US President Donald Trump on Saturday weighed in on the Iran protests for a second straight day, warning that the country’s people want change and “oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.”
As Iran protests continue, President Trump posted on Twitter two clips of his speech to the UN General Assembly in September. In which he took aim at the Iranian regime, which Washington has held out as its top adversary in the Middle East.
“Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice,” he tweeted, quoting from the speech.
“The world is watching!”
Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2017
Later Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence added his voice, saying: “The time has come for the regime in Tehran to end terrorist activities, corruption, & their disregard for human rights.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders added: “The days of America looking the other way … are over.”
Trump’s posts came as several hundred anti-government demonstrators clashed with police at the University of Tehran in a third straight day of protests.
Hundreds of counter-protesters also massed outside the entrance to the university, chanting “Death to the seditionists” in a show of support for the regime.
Videos shared by social media users outside Iran, but which could not be independently verified, claimed to show thousands marching peacefully against the regime in several cities including Khorramabad, Zanjan and Ahvaz, with chants of “Death to the dictator.”
“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,” Trump said, again quoting from the UN speech.
Trump also tweeted in support of the protesters late Friday, prompting Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahran Ghasemi to dismiss his remarks as “opportunistic.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have warned anti-government protesters they will face the nation’s “iron fist” if political unrest continues.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutions Guards Corp is a powerful force with ties to the country’s supreme leader, and is dedicated to preserving the country’s Islamic system.
Among the recent events across Iran:
- Two people are reported dead in Dorud, having apparently been shot.
- In Abhar, demonstrators set fire to large banners bearing the picture of the supreme leader.
- In Arak, protesters reportedly set fire to the local headquarters of the pro-government Basij militia.
- In Mashhad, protesters burned police motorcycles in a confrontation caught on video.
- The CEO of popular mobile messaging app Telegram said an Iranian account had been suspended for calling for attacks on police.
- There are numerous reports of people losing internet access on their mobile phones.
BBC Persian correspondent Kasra Naji said a common factor in all locations has been protesters’ demand for an end to clerical rule in Iran.
There is also anger at Iran’s interventions abroad. In Mashhad, some chanted “not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran”, a reference to what protesters say is the administration’s focus on foreign rather than domestic issues.
These Iran protests are the biggest show of dissent since huge pro-reform rallies in 2009. The protests were titled Iranian Green Movement or Green Revolution. Many consider the 2009 Green Revolution was a missed opportunity for regime change in Iran. Many blamed former President Obama for not capitalizing on that opportunity.
A perceived mistake that President Trump doesn’t appear to want to repeat.