Protests in Iran Hit Boiling Point, Amplifying Calls for Regime Change

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New sanctions to further choke an already ailing regime

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, August 6, 2018:

Protests against Iran’s hardline ruling regime hit a boiling point over the weekend, as demonstrators took to the streets for the sixth consecutive day in the face of efforts by the regime to beat and arrest those seeking regime change in the Islamic Republic, according to multiple reports from the region.

Curfews have been imposed in parts of the country amid nightly demonstrations by Iranian dissidents who have been heard chanting, “death to the dictator” and “Mullahs should go away.”

At least one protester was shot and killed by Iranian security forces over the weekend, but that does not appear to have quelled opposition to the Iranian ruling regime, which was smacked Monday with the first portion of harsh new sanctions by the Trump administration following the president’s decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal that provided Iran’s leaders with millions in cash windfalls.

The ongoing protests have been percolating for weeks as dissidents take to the streets across Iran to protest the hardline ruling regime and its massive military spending, which has crippled an already weak Iranian economy.

Western pressure on the Iranian financial sector heightened on Monday, as the Trump administration imposed the first wave of new sanctions on Iran’s gold, coal, steel, and aluminum trade. The sanctions are being supported by new efforts by the Trump administration to warn European countries that any new business with Iran will subject them and their international banking systems to harsh new sanctions, as the Washington Free Beacon first reported on Thursday after conversations with multiple senior U.S. officials.

Video that emerged on social media on Sunday shows a reported 6,000 bus drivers in Tehran, Iran’s capital city, sitting in long lines for nearly 24 hours to get fuel, which has been cut off due to Iran’s inability to pay its debts, according to translations of the Farsi language videos posted to Twitter.

“Eighteen hours of work and this is the status of our city,” a videographer can be heard narrating, according to an independent translation. “We have to wait in line 24 hours to pump fuel. If [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] doesn’t have enough money, how dare he support Palestine and [the Lebanese] Hezbollah? If he doesn’t have money, how dare he provide for those people going to Arbaeen [ Shiite religious ceremony in Iraq marking the death of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Imam Hossein]?”

“How much more hardship and disgrace are we to endure?” the narrator continues. “Our revolution wasn’t for these people to take advantage of us and be cruel to us. Who should I say it to? I’m not saying it to myself. We should gather and go say it. Our revolution wasn’t to support Lebanon, Palestine, and that filthy [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah.”

Dissident protesters appear to have been encouraged by recent remarks by the Trump administration, including the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, supporting the right of those to demonstrate against the regime. However, it remains unclear just how far the White House will go to back these protesters as they seek to topple the hardline ruling regime.

On Sunday, Iranian officials imposed a curfew around Tehran amid the ongoing, nightly demonstrations, according to those familiar with events on the ground. Much of the frustration has centered around the Iranian regime’s continued spending on military interventionism, particularly in Syria on behalf of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

One protester, identified as Reza Otady, is said to have been shot dead during clashes with Iranian security forces and pro-regime militias.

Other protests have raged in major Iranian cities, including Shiraz, Qom, and Mashhad, sources said.

Social media sites such as Twitter have emerged as a prominent platform during the protests, which demonstrators coordinating their moves via these platforms.

The main frustration continues to be Iran’s economy, including the plunging value of the rial and the inability of citizens to purchase life staples.

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Also see:

REIMPOSING TOUGH SANCTIONS: President Donald J. Trump’s Administration is taking action to reimpose sanctions lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

  • President Trump made clear when he ended United States participation in the JCPOA that his Administration would be reimposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime.
    • In connection with the withdrawal from the JCPOA, the Administration laid out two wind-down periods of 90 days and 180 days for business activities in or involving Iran.
  • Consistent with President Trump’s decision, the Administration will be reimposing specified sanctions after August 6, the final day of the 90-day wind-down period.
  • On August 7, sanctions will be reimposed on:
    • The purchase or acquisition of United States bank notes by the Government of Iran.
    • Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals.
    • Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes.
    • Transactions related to the Iranian rial.
    • Activities relating to Iran’s issuance of sovereign debt
    • Iran’s automotive sector.
  • The remaining sanctions will be reimposed on November 5, including sanctions on:
    • Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors.
    • Iran’s petroleum-related transactions.
    • Transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.
  • The Administration will also relist hundreds of individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft that were previously included on sanctions lists.

ENSURING FULL ENFORCEMENT: President Trump will continue to stand up to the Iranian regime’s aggression, and the United States will fully enforce the reimposed sanctions.

  • The Iranian regime has exploited the global financial system to fund its malign activities.
    • The regime has used this funding to support terrorism, promote ruthless regimes, destabilize the region, and abuse the human rights of its own people.
  • The Trump Administration intends to fully enforce the sanctions reimposed against Iran, and those who fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.
  • Since the President announced his decision on May 8 to withdraw from the JCPOA, the Administration has sanctioned 38 Iran-related targets in six separate actions.

PROTECTING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY: The JCPOA was defective at its core and failed to guarantee the safety of the American people.

  • President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal upheld his highest obligation: to protect the safety and security of the American people.
  • The Iranian regime only grew more aggressive under the cover of the JCPOA and was given access to more resources to pursue its malign activities.
    • The regime continues to threaten the United States and our allies, exploit the international financial system, and support terrorism and foreign proxies.
  • The Administration is working with allies to bring pressure on the Iranian regime to achieve an agreement that denies all paths to a nuclear weapon and addresses other malign activities.

Read the full text of the Executive Order.

Read the full statement from President Trump.