Nine dead, hundreds arrested as fresh protests hit Iran

Sergio Conner
January 14, 2018

Iran's government also organized two days of mass demonstrations across the country Wednesday and Thursday as a sign of strength and to reassure those anxious about the unrest.

In a rare display of anti-regime dissent, demonstrators in some parts of the country were overheard chanting slogans against Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as the regime's elite and sternly loyal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

So far, however, few analysts say the conditions are right for the protests to evolve into a revolution.

But the show of strength is unlikely to defuse the tensions underpinning the protests, which have centered in provincial areas that have always been a conservative stronghold.

If he reimposes sanctions on oil, it could increase the economic pain for Iran's leaders. Protestors reportedly chanted "death to the dictator" and "death to the Revolutionary Guards". While these elites benefit, the youth unemployment rate is 24 percent.

The demonstrations are the biggest in the country since 2009, when millions demanded the re-run of a disputed presidential election. In some cases, protesters have attacked police stations and government buildings.

The mercurial president offered no specifics, but a senior administration official said that the White House was "looking across the board" at sanction authorities allowing Trump to target organizations or individuals involved in human rights violations, censorship or preventing free assembly.

The move was sparked in the summer of 2009 when the reformist opposition claimed the re-election victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged.

The protests then went nationwide, with calls for the overthrow the entire government.

As violence has spread, authorities have stepped up arrests, with at least 450 people detained in the capital since Saturday and 100 more around Isfahan on Monday, officials told local media.

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In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iranians already enjoy the right to peaceful protest and asserted that the same freedom to demonstrate is denied to citizens of some USA allies in the Middle East.

Antigovernment protesters have also been demonstrating against alleged government corruption and mismanagement. "I think he recognized the dangers of meddling in Iran's domestic affairs". "And now they're deeply angry and they've given up on everyone".

"We want to help amplify the voices of the Iranian people", U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on January 2.

How is this different to 2009?

The administration was also considering additional sanctions against Iran over human rights concerns related to the protests, said a US official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the plans publicly and demanded anonymity.

As some cities in Iran have recently been scenes of civil protests against price hikes, the U.S. president has sided with the opportunists and demonstrators who were trying to damage public property in the gatherings.

"He (Trump) recently called Iranians "a terrorist nation" and used a fake name for the Persian Gulf, stirring the Iranians' national feelings and angering them around the world", the spokesman said.

The administration has also said it is seeking new legislation through Congress to end the perpetual certification process every 90 days, but nothing has yet to come out of Capitol Hill on that front.

In addition to the tweets, he cited the State Department's acknowledgment it was making its Farsi language accounts on Facebook and Twitter available through virtual private networks to circumvent government attempts to block access.

Washington will seek emergency sessions at the United Nations to express support for the protesters, Haley said, adding that the worldwide community had failed to support reformist protests in 2009 that were crushed by Tehran.

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