US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed on Saturday the US’s support for the Iranian people following countrywide protests that erupted on Friday causing at least 29 deaths following the Iranian government’s decision to hike the price of gas.
Pompeo referenced a tweet he had posted in 2018 in a direct message to Iranians, saying: “The United Stated hears you. The United States supports you. The United States is with you.”
As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you. https://t.co/D972wPyLxm— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 16, 2019
At the time, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned US President Donald Trump that a war with Tehran would be “the mother of all wars.”
Trump had responded in a tweet by saying: “To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
In his most recent tweet about the recent protests in Iran, Pompeo reiterated the US’s support for the people of Iran.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus also tweeted that the US stands with “the long-suffering Iranian people,” condemning the shutting down of Internet services by the Iranian government.
The U.S. stands with the long-suffering Iranian people as they protest the latest injustice by the corrupt regime in power. We condemn the attempted shutdown of the internet. Let them speak! #IranProtests https://t.co/jmNvFTueBl— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) November 16, 2019
Iran had almost completely shut off access to the internet across the country as protests over an increase in fuel prices intensified for the second day, cybersecurity NGO Netblocks confirmed in a report.
“Iran is in the midst of a near-total national internet shutdown as of 18:45 UTC, Saturday. Real-time network data show connectivity has fallen to just 7% of ordinary levels following twelve hours of progressive network disconnections as public protests have continued across the country,” Netblocks said.
Meanwhile, security forces continued to use live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters across the country, leading to at least 29 deaths and several injuries.
US Congressman Will Hurd also voiced support for the protests on Saturday, tweeting: “The only way we prevent Iran from supporting terrorism and obtaining nuclear weapons is a change in government, and that can only happen if the Iranian people stand up.”
Why #IranProtests matter: the only way we prevent Iran from supporting terrorism and obtaining nuclear weapons is a change in government, and that can only happen if the Iranian people stand up.— Rep. Will Hurd (@HurdOnTheHill) November 16, 2019
We must amplify their message so this tyrannical regime can be stopped. https://t.co/1z3UHr7Fm2
In Dubai, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates told The Associated Press that America was “not advocating regime change. We are going to let the Iranian people decide for themselves their future.”
“They are frustrated. They want freedom,” Ambassador John Rakolta said at the Dubai Airshow.
“These developments that you see right now are their own people telling them, ‘We need change and to sit down with the American government.’”
Police have arrested 40 people during protests in Iran’s Yazd city on Sunday, ISNA news agency reported. In the city of Bam in the Kerman province, media reports said authorities arrested at least 15 demonstrators.
Iran imposed petrol rationing and raised pump prices by at least 50 percent on Friday, saying the move was aimed at helping citizens in need with cash handouts. Anti-government protests have erupted in over 53 Iranian cities since the decision was announced.
As Iran struggles to overcome US sanctions that have severely weakened the country’s economy, the protests serve as a renewed pressure on the Iranian government following the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal.