Iran protests can hurt religious elite, but Rouhani most of all

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However, the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, supporters of exiled Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi and other activists overseas have sought to keep up the protests' momentum by using social media to spread videos and calls for people to join.

Iranian state television reported that nine people were killed overnight, with the overall death toll standing at least 20.

Iran's supreme leader blamed "enemies" Tuesday for unrest that has seen 21 deaths as Washington sought to increase pressure on the Islamic regime that was facing its biggest test in years.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the country's powerful Revolutionary Guards, said the marches marked an end to the anti-government protests, which he referred to as "the sedition".

The 2009 protests were also largely centered in Tehran, unlike this current round of protests which is stronger in provincial areas. While these elites benefit, the youth unemployment rate is 24 percent.

The towns are all in Iran's central Isfahan province, around 350 kilometres south of Tehran.

Since Thursday, tens of thousands of protesters have formed the largest outpouring of government opposition since the volatile 2009 presidential elections.

Their movement has so far lacked any apparent leadership and clear demands.

He also told VOA the Iranian government has to be held accountable for its actions.

"They are average Iranians, and they are exhausted of the regime's attempts to either humble or ignore them", Taleblu said.

Tear gas appeared to have been fired at protesters at the University of Tehran
Image Tear gas appeared to have been fired at protesters at the University of Tehran

Khamenei said on his website that he would address the nation about the events "when the time is right". But they threw their weight behind Rouhani in 2013 and 2017, and now enjoy government and even cabinet positions.

But Iran's government probably can not do much to change the realities. The local governor said the protesters were armed.

But he said, "If there is going to be any negotiation to defuse this, it's going to be people of a more reformist orientation who can then make the claim to the hard-line establishment that the status quo is untenable - that we need to pursue more substantive, transformative policies, and meet the grievances of these protesters". Unrest in Iranian cities is the latest case in point.

The Revolutionary Guards in particular, whose leaders have entered politics, was historically popular in the provinces, where it has carried out infrastructure and employment projects. Look at the recent days' incidents. France, he said, wanted to maintain some balance. "And now they're deeply angry and they've given up on everyone".

This time, however, President Trump is supporting the Iranian people.

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. People are asking the USA to support them in other ways as well, in addition to helping them bypass the internet-blocks and shut-downs that the Iranian regime recently implemented.

"Saudis will receive Iran's unexpected response and they know how serious it can be", Shamkhani was quoted by Tasnim news as saying in an interview with Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV.

Oil markets will be watching carefully to see if the Donald J. Trump administration uses Iran's repression of its own people as a reason to refuse to issue the waiver to keep the United States from violating the terms of the nuclear deal or if the US president-once again-refuses to recertify Iran's compliance with the deal, kicking the issue back to a reluctant Congress. Markets will be looking for any signs that USA action will make it more hard for Iran to sell its oil or to raise new oil and gas investments in the Iranian industry.

In addition to the tweets, he cited the State Department's acknowledgment it was making its Farsi language accounts on Facebook and Twitter available through virtual private networks to circumvent government attempts to block access.

IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO, in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general: "Against the backdrop of continuous attempts by previous USA administrations to disrupt the course of normal political, social and cultural life in Iran in the past decades, starting with the coup against Iran's democratically elected prime minister in 1953, the current US administration has crossed every limit in flouting rules and principles of global law governing the civilized conduct of worldwide relations".

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