US President Donald Trump again encouraged the protesters in Iran on Sunday, saying that the Iranian people were no longer prepared to see the country’s resources “squandered on terrorism” as mass protests continued.
“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism,” Trump tweeted, saying that it looks like the Iranians “will not take it any longer.”
“The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!” he said.
Protesters in Tehran set fire to poster of the Ayatollah Khomeini! pic.twitter.com/eP0j0oSDVu
— GITMO KAG2020 ???????? (@President1Trump) December 31, 2017
Trump’s tweets the previous day angered Iran’s government, leading the Foreign Ministry spokesman to say the “Iranian people give no credit to the deceitful and opportunist remarks of US officials or Mr. Trump.”
Trump’s remarks came with the Iranian interior minister cautioning that Israel, the US, and other regional powers do not understand the nature of the clashes and that their delight at anti-government demonstrations is misguided.
A third night of unrest in Iran overnight Saturday saw mass demonstrations across the country in which two people were killed, dozens arrested and public buildings attacked.
After an initial silence, state media has begun showing footage of unrest, focusing on young men violently targeting banks and vehicles, an attack on a town hall in Tehran, and images of a man burning the Iranian flag.
“Those who damage public property, disrupt order and break the law must be responsible for their behaviour and pay the price,” Interior Minister Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli said on state television.
“The spreading of violence, fear and terror will definitely be confronted,” he added.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli claimed foreign powers were mistaken in their assessments of the situation.
“The occupying Zionist regime, the reactionary regimes in the region and the US are gleefully projecting certain scenes in their faulty minds as if something were happening in Iran,” Fazli said according to a report from the semi-official Fars News Agency.
“Our enemies, especially those who have no standing in their countries and not been elected by people, have claimed to be backing our people and our people’s rights in the past few days,” Fazli declared, apparently referring to the Sunni monarchies in the region. “They have not recognized our people.”
On Saturday Trump tweeted his support for the protesters, warning that the Iranian people want change and “oppressive regimes cannot endure forever.”
Trump posted on Twitter a clip 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!” he wrote.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi responded saying US officials were being “duplicitous and opportunist” in their support for the demonstrators, Press TV reported Saturday.
“The great Iranian nation regards the opportunist and duplicitous support of the American officials for certain gatherings over the recent days in some Iranian cities as nothing but the deceit and hypocrisy of the US administration,” he said.
“The Iranian people attach no value to the opportunistic remarks by American officials and Trump himself,” Qassemi said dismissing them as “cheap, worthless and invalid.”
The Iranian spokesman noted that Tehran is watching Trump’s human rights violations in Palestine, Yemen and Bahrain, the report said.
Israeli ministers also commented on developments, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tweeting on Saturday that “Iran is wasting billions of dollars funding Hezbollah, Hamas, the Assad regime & terrorism throughout the world, rather than investing in the Iranian people. It’s no wonder that many Iranians are bravely standing up & speaking out against the Iranian leadership.”
Regional Cooperation Minister wrote on his Twitter feed the “civilized world must support the Iran protests.”
“The Iranian people are courageously risking their lives in the pursuit of freedom and a better, more peaceful future for themselves and their children.”
The protests began over high living costs and the struggling economy before spreading quickly to other areas and turning against the Islamic regime as a whole.
The anti-government protests appear to have been propelled in large part by poorer sections of society, angry over high unemployment, soaring prices and financial scandals.
Iran’s economy has improved since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some international sanctions. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals to purchase tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Western aircraft.
That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40%, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.