Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Health Care | By Alice Shelton

Zarif to Trump: Iranians have right to vote and protest

Zarif to Trump: Iranians have right to vote and protest

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to Trump's criticism by pointing out that America's Gulf Arab allies have restrictive political systems with no rights to vote or protests.

Washington believes the protests, which began in Iran's second-largest city of Mashhad, initially targeted reformist President Hassan Rouhani and may have been led by conservatives linked to prominent Mashhad cleric Ebrahim Raisi - who lost to Rouhani in 2017 elections.

Pro-regime demonstrations denouncing the 2009 Green Movement leaders also may have provoked a political backlash.

He said the "people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime". State media reported that at least 21 people have been killed and several hundred arrested.

Trump - advised by a clutch of former generals who spent a career fighting Iranian proxies - has taken a hard line against Iran since coming to office. The US and United Kingdom cooperated in 1953 to orchestrate the overthrow of democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, an operation that reinstated the shah into power. Dual nationalities are not uncommon in Iran, so the arrest would hardly be proof of meddling by foreign powers.

The protests highlight discontent with the lack of economic progress under President Rouhani, who was first elected on a reformist platform in 2013, promising to lead Iran out of its global isolation, guarantee greater freedoms and improve the economy.After Tehran and six major powers agreed on a deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, hopes were high that an end to the sanctions would end inequality.

Unemployment remains high at more than 12 percent, and inflation has resurged to 10 percent. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years.

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Fortunately, in recent days, demonstrations have erupted across Iran, in opposition to widespread repression and economic problems.

"It is better for him to try to address the U.S. internal issues like the murder of scores killed on a daily basis in the United States during armed clashes and shootings, as well as millions of the homeless and hungry people in the country", Ghasemi said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran's weak economy have swept into Tehran, with students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the clerical establishment. Experts estimate a smaller, but potentially more widespread turnout than in 2009. President Donald Trump has thrown moral support to the protesters in tweets and has promised more concrete backing, floating possible new sanctions against Iran if it violates human rights in cracking down.

Andrew Peek told The National that the administration is trying to alter the behavior of the Iran's current leadership.

"That means it's not entirely clear what it means politically inside Iran, it's unpredictable".

"President Rouhani has nothing to lose by taking a bold step". "What we would like to see above all is the regime change its behavior, in a whole lot of ways, but in particular towards the protesters", Peek said. Nevertheless, even if imminent change might be unlikely, "the idea of popular democratic opposition has been rehabilitated", Dr. Tazmini adds."The protests have offered a salutary warning that the system needs to adapt to societal change and popular aspirations".

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