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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Trump administration declares support for Iran’s protesters against the 'rogue state'

The statement is the first from President Trump's administration on the widespread protests taking place across Iranian cities, and confirms its hawkish stance against the regime in Tehran

US President Donald Trump's administration has broken with the more cautious approach of his predecessor Barack Obama, who kept silent during the early days of the upheaval in Tehran in 2009. AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta
US President Donald Trump's administration has broken with the more cautious approach of his predecessor Barack Obama, who kept silent during the early days of the upheaval in Tehran in 2009. AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta

In an early sign of its support for the protesters in Iran, the Trump administration issued a statement blasting the Iranian regime “whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos” and extending a hand to those in the streets.

Three days into the widespread protests across Iranian cities driven mostly by economic woes, US President Donald Trump's administration broke with the more cautious approach of his predecessor Barack Obama who kept silent during the early days of the upheaval in Tehran in 2009.

Late on Friday in Washington, the State Department issued a 139-word statement confirming that it is “following reports of multiple peaceful protests by Iranian citizens in cities across the country” and extending a hand to the protesters.

The statement issued by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert accused Iran’s leaders of turning a “wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos”.

“As President [Donald] Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran's leaders are Iran’s own people,” it added.

US Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also tweeted on Friday in support of the protesters.

"This is the result of a regime more focused on propping up terrorist organisations than addressing the plight of its citizens," he said.

The statement from the State Department condemned the arrest of peaceful protesters and looked beyond the US position by urging “all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption”.

In a not so subtle reference to the Trump team's desire to see peaceful change in government in Tehran, the statement recalled US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's testimony to Congress last June, backing “those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”

The statement is the first from the Trump administration on the protests, and confirms its hawkish stance against the regime in Iran. Mr Trump called the regime “fanatical”, “radical” and a “leading sponsor of terror” in October, while announcing the decertification of the Iran nuclear deal.

“We stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims: its own people”, Mr Trump said then.

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