Trump says 'time for change' in Iran as protests continue

A video screen grab appearing to show a group of men pulling a street fence in Teheran on Saturday. At least 10 people have been killed in nationwide protests in Iran over the past five days.
A video screen grab appearing to show a group of men pulling a street fence in Teheran on Saturday. At least 10 people have been killed in nationwide protests in Iran over the past five days.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump said it was "time for change" in Iran and that the country's people were "hungry" for freedom, after days of deadly protests against the government in Teheran.

"Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama administration," Mr Trump tweeted yesterday, referring to the 2015 nuclear pact sealed under his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

"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!"

At least 10 people have been killed in nationwide protests in Iran over the past five days, Iranian state television said yesterday, a day after President Hassan Rouhani appealed for calm and urged demonstrators to refrain from violence.

Mr Trump has been vocal on Twitter about the protests in Iran since they erupted last week.

"The world is watching!" he said, reposting clips of his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September.

"Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice," Mr Trump tweeted, quoting from the speech.

But Mr Rouhani hit back, saying that the American leader - whose "whole being is against the nation of Iran - had "no right" to sympathise with protesters.

The rising death toll comes as spontaneous demonstrations have swept across Iran since last Thursday, when economic protests swiftly turned political and took aim at the government.

Criticism of the Islamic republic is taboo, and public dissent is often brutally crushed.

Still, demonstrators have continued to defy security forces, turning out even in pro-government strongholds to chant slogans against the supreme leader and the country's ruling clerics.

Iran, the US and other world powers reached a nuclear agreement in 2015, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran, in return for Teheran curbing its nuclear programme.

Mr Trump, who has called it "the worst deal ever", has since imposed additional sanctions on Teheran.

Iran has said that it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but warned that it will "shred" the deal if Washington pulls out of it.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'Trump says 'time for change' in Iran as protests continue'. Print Edition | Subscribe