During a statement to the press U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the latest unrest that is raging across the Islamic Republic of Iran. Protests gripped the country after the Ayatollah regime decided to hike up petrol prices, in addition to rationing of gasoline consumption, amid Tehran’s growing economic distress.
While the Ayatollah regime insists that the price increase is aimed at raising funds for cash handouts to the Islamic Republic’s poorest citizens, many Iranians already grappling with rising inflation were quick to protest against the new policy. These protests quickly turned violent. In response, the regime implemented a near-total internet shutdown, and also launched a deadly crackdown that reportedly claimed the lives of several protesters. According to Pompeo “The United States is monitoring the ongoing protests in Iran closely. We condemn strongly any acts of violence committed by this regime against the Iranian people and are deeply concerned by reports of several fatalities. We’ve been at that since the beginning of this administration. The Islamic Republic must cease violence against its own people and should immediately restore the ability of all Iranians to access a free and open Internet. The world is watching. The Iranian people will enjoy a better future when their government begins to respect basic human rights, abandons its revolutionary posture and its destabilizing foreign policy in the region, and behaves simply like a normal nation. The choice is clearly with the regime.”
Secretary Pompeo also seized the opportunity to respond to the Islamic Republic’s recent decision to scale back on its commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement, by raising the country’s level of uranium enrichment- saying “The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero. Iran originally constructed Fordow as a fortified, underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site. Iran should reverse its activity there immediately. Iran’s supreme leader is reverting to his tried-and-true method of using nuclear brinksmanship to extort the international community into accepting the regime’s destabilizing activity. The United States rejects this approach completely and calls on all nations to do the same. The only viable way forward is through comprehensive negotiations that address the full range of Iran’s threats in their entirety. Iran’s most recent action is yet another clear attempt at nuclear extortion that will only deepen its political and economic isolation from the world.”
In response to Secretary Pompeo’s earlier remarks, which echoed his statement via his Twitter feed; Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani accused the United States of trying to “mess-up” the security of the Islamic Republic, writing “When the impudent U.S. foreign minister openly supported setting fire on people’s properties, shamelessly and with foolish opportunism calling this his support for the people of Iran, he showed his trumped-up and hypocritical behavior towards the nation of Iran, and that the U.S’s purpose about Iran is nothing but messing up the security of the country and setting the nation’s interests on fire.”
Subsequently, the Islamic Republic’s supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisted that those protesting against the regime in Tehran are not peaceful protesters, saying “No one should help these hooligans, no wise and deserving person interested in his own country, interested in his comfortable life should help them. They are the hooligans and not the ordinary people…The authorities should also be careful and try to reduce the problems of this (fuel price increase) decision as much as possible.”
It is important to note that while the gasoline price hike directly impacts the Iranian people, the cost for gasoline in Iran remains one of the lowest around world, at 32 eurocent per liter, or 1 U.S. dollar and 35 cents per gallon. That said, the average salary in Iran is also significantly lower than the world’s average.