by WorldTribune Staff, January 1, 2018
Media reports from Iran say at least a dozen people have been killed as protests entered a fifth consecutive day on Jan. 1.
Video posted on social media showed anti-government protests spreading throughout a nation regarded as a regional strategic threat by pro-U.S. neighbors including Saudi Arabia and Israel.
“Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration,” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 1.
He went on to provide context for the uprising not seen in major media reports which blamed the unrest on economic factors.
“The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”
Former George W. Bush administration official James S. Robbins, in a Dec. 31 column for USA Today, noted that Trump’s support “for the aspirations of the Iranian people stands in contrast to his predecessor’s diffident response to the 2009 protests.”
“Whether the protesters can sustain their momentum, and whether security forces will start to desert the regime, remains to be seen,” Robbins wrote. “But the demonstrators deserve every encouragement from the free peoples of the world, with the hope that they may soon drive out the tyrants in Teheran.”
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Iran “has been in the grip of a fundamentalist Islamic theocracy,” Robbins noted. “Before the advent of the ayatollahs, Iran was a progressive, secular and pro-western nation. It was in some ways typical of countries in that part of the world before Islamism had become a driving political force. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution was one of the early indications that times were changing, for the worse.”
The Iranian regime’s human rights abuses “have been well documented,” Robbins wrote. “Many freedoms are nonexistent. Civil liberties are curtailed. Political dissidents are arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed. Elections are tightly controlled, and essentially meaningless under the rule of the mullahs. The economy is under government mandate. Women live in a state of enforced inequality, and homosexuals live in a state of mortal fear.”
The Iranian government “promised that the nuclear deal with the United States and the end of sanctions would lead to an economic resurgence,” Robbins noted. “But the expected growth has not happened. Furthermore, the windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in direct cash transfers has not trickled down to the people. Instead Iran is still subsidizing Hizbullah militias in Syria, sending missiles to Yemen, and rockets to Hamas. Hence the chants in the streets, ‘Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, I give my life for Iran.’ Meanwhile wages are downand food prices are up. It is not a recipe for stability.”
In his first public remarks since the start of the protests, President Hassan Rouhani said Iranians had the right to protest, but warned that those demonstrations should not make the public “feel concerned about their lives and security.”
“The people are absolutely free in expressing their criticisms and even protests,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting, according to state-run Press TV. “But criticism is different from violence and destroying public property.”
Coverage of the protests by the mainstream media in the West, meanwhile, has been scant until recently.
“Something profound is happening throughout Iran, and the Western mass media are just not reporting it,” Potkin Azarmehr wrote for American Thinker on Dec. 30.
Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center tweeted yesterday: “No mention of #Iran on @nytimes front page. None. #Journalism is utterly corrupt.”
Azarmehr noted that “Thankfully, today, we do not have to rely on the politically biased Western correspondents based in Iran, who seem too scared to upset the Islamic Republic authorities and report on anything other than the good cop, bad cop scenarios of ‘moderates’ against ‘hardliners.’ Today, we have social media. Every citizen is a potential reporter with a camera, and news travels faster than the foreign correspondents and ‘echo chambers’ can say ‘moderates in Iran.’ ”
Azarmehr concluded: “Whether the current dissatisfaction by the Iranian population will snowball to a full-blown revolution and whether the regime still has the stamina and the capability to crack down on protesters remain to be seen, but the increasing frequency of protests and the growing radicalization therein certainly deserve more coverage in the media – at least as much as those early isolated small protests that led to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.”