Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is due to give his first major policy speech on Iran next Monday, tweeted his support for the protesters in that country, “We support the Iranian people who are demonstrating against an oppressive government. 3 deaths & Internet interruption show the regime’s true nature.”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio followed suit, tweeting, “The people of Iran continue to risk their lives to protest the corrupt & oppressive Iranian terror regime. I join @SecPompeo in supporting the Iranian people and hope the international media also gives these important protests in Kazeroun and elsewhere the attention they deserve.”
Iran analyst and research fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Benham Ben Taleblu, said in an interview, “Secretary Pompeo’s tweet is spot-on. At every juncture, the Islamic Republic continues to prove that it does not care about the interests or well-being of the Iranian people.” He added, “I hope concrete actions in support of the freedom of communication for the Iranian people, and against the interests and assets of the regime, complement the Secretary’s tweet.”
Iran affairs expert and founding editor of The Foreign Desk, Lisa Daftari, said it was significant that the secretary of state would tweet out such a message. “For almost four decades Iran’s people have believed that any political movement, including regime change, would have to be supported by the West. For that reason, statements made in support of recent protests, including Pompeo’s tweet, cannot be underestimated,” she said.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an influential coalition of Iranian opposition groups, stated that the third consecutive day of protests began during Friday prayers. According to the NCRI, “Despite (the) dispatch of special anti-riot units to Kazerun from nearby cities, the people chanted slogans against the regime’s governor at An-Nabi Mosque and turned their backs on him. Shortly thereafter, clashes began at the Friday prayer congregation, which was disrupted. People are clashing with the security forces at Shohada (martyrs) Square right now.” They added that according to local sources, the death toll had risen to three, and several people are missing. As well, bodies of the dead have not been given to their families. Internet connections are still cut.
Quoting local officials, Iranian media claims only one person had been killed, and cited the local governor as saying that NCRI coalition member, the MEK, was playing a role in the protests.
Tabelu concluded, “the Kazerun protests deserve greater coverage. Major protests in Iran like 2009 and 2017-2018 did not appear out of a social vacuum. They drew on unaddressed grievances for political, social, and economic change.”