Iran protests can hurt religious elite, but Rouhani most of all

A protester chants slogans against the Iranian government outside the European Union Council in Brussels Belgium on Wednesday

"If the Iranian dictatorship's history is any guide, we can expect more outrageous abuses in the days to come".

Iran's army chief said yesterday police forces had already quelled anti-government unrest that has killed 21 people but that his troops were ready to intervene if needed, official media reported, as new state-sponsored pro-government rallies were held. At least 36 people were killed, according to an official toll, while the opposition says 72 died. "Hundreds have been arrested", she said.

Rouhani said on Sunday Iranians had the right to protest and criticise the authorities but their actions should not lead to violence or damage public property.

But they also urged the authorities to address economic grievances that have fuelled the protests.

Erdogan's comments came after almost a week of protests in Iran marked by deadly violence and hundreds of arrests.

"If the leadership is to change in Iran, the Iranian people will do this", he said. The local governor said the protesters were armed.

The protests began December 28 in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city and a bastion for hard-liners, initially focusing on Iran's flagging economy and rising food prices.

"They are average Iranians, and they are exhausted of the regime's attempts to either humble or ignore them", Taleblu said.

All those cities have seen protests in recent days. Some claimed online that government employees had been instructed to take part, something Iranian media did not discuss. "The U.S.is watching!"

Khamenei spoke publicly for the first time about the crisis Tuesday, accusing Iran's enemies of stirring unrest but saying no more. The U.S. government believes that hard-liners initiated the demonstrations as a means to pressure President Hassan Rouhani, a relatively moderate cleric within Iran's political system.

Even reformists, who backed the last major protest movement in 2009, condemned the unrest and the support it has received from the United States.


Iran's ambassador to the United Nations complained about his tweets in a letter Wednesday to the Security Council president.

Other officials, like U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, urged the worldwide community to join in on the administration's efforts.

People protest in Tehran, Iran December 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

"The Iranian authorities must respect the rights of all demonstrators and detainees, including their right to life, and guarantee their safety and security", Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement.

As regards Iran's presence in anti-terror measures in neighboring Iraq and Syria, Rouhani said, "Our presence in Iraq and Syria has been based on the official invitation of the governments of these countries and to fight terrorism". Rouhani's office did not mention the comment.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards, said the marches marked an end to the anti-government protests, which he referred to as "the sedition".

It remains hard for journalists to piece together what's happening beyond the capital, especially as the government has blocked both the photo-sharing app Instagram and the messaging app Telegram, which protesters have used to organize their demonstrations and share footage.

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.

He said the situation in Tehran was under control and the police had not asked for the help of the Revolutionary Guards special forces.

The protests have inspired a number of tweets by President Donald Trump, expressing support for the demonstrators and condemning the "corrupt and brutal Iranian regime".

In anger, the protesters set fire to an overturned ambulance, shouting as the flames rose into the night sky.

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