President Donald Trump warned Sunday that the United States is watching Iran’s treatment of protesters for human rights violations after anti-government protests there turned deadly this weekend, CNN reports.
“Big protests in Iran,” Trump tweeted. “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”
President Trump tweeted three times in support of protesters on Friday and Saturday:
“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most,” he added in another tweet. In a third, he wrote: “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”
He continued Sunday morning, mentioning that Iranians are “finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism” and “they will not take it any longer.” Trump also took to Twitter later Sunday to criticize the Iranian government’s efforts to limit access to social media.
“Iran, the Number One State of Sponsored Terror with numerous violations of Human Rights occurring on an hourly basis, has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!” Trump tweeted.
Bahram Qassemi, spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, said Trump’s remarks and the statements of other U.S. officials were “opportunist and duplicitous” and said it was part of “the deceit and hypocrisy of the U.S. administration.” Qassemi was quoted by the newspaper Tehran Times, which calls itself the “voice of the Islamic Revolution.”
“The great Iranian nation regards the opportunist and duplicitous support of the American officials for certain gatherings over the recent days in some Iranian cities as nothing but [part of] the deceit and hypocrisy of the U.S. administration,” Qassemi said on Saturday.
He condemned the “cheap, worthless and invalid” remarks by U.S. officials and said that the Iranian people attach no value to the opportunistic remarks by American officials and [President Donald] Trump himself.
Iranians are blocked from entering the U.S. as part of the Trump administration’s travel ban, a fact not lost on the Iranian government, with Qassemi calling it “spiteful.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the U.S. president as an “enemy of the Iranian nation from the top of his head to his very toes” after Mr Trump said Iranians were “finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism”.
On the other hand, President Trump on Sunday earned praise from lawmakers and former government officials for his approach to the protests taking place in Iran. The Trump administration has taken a strong stance supporting peaceful demonstrators protesting against the government in Tehran, with Trump tweeting about it multiple times and Vice President Pence and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also voicing support.
The president’s supporters are marketing Trump’s approach to Iran as a stark contrast from the Obama administration, which Trump has repeatedly criticized for being too soft on Tehran. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is considered a prominent voice within the GOP on national security and foreign policy, pointed to Trump’s support of Iranian protesters as evidence that Trump has “made good foreign policy choices.”
“He is now on the side of the Iranian people,” Graham told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” but went on to urge Trump to do more. “But he has to do more than watch. He actually has to act. And if I were him I would withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran next year if it’s not made better by the Congress and our European allies,” he said.
Trump on Sunday also earned approval from former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, who in the same interview was critical of the “uncertainty” caused by the rest of Trump’s foreign policy. Mullen said Sunday that the president’s emphasis on human rights is important.
“Well, I think the focus there is incredibly important. Many of us have spoken for years about the oppression that occurs in the Middle East by many, many governments, and certainly, we have great disagreements with Iran who still supports terrorism, obviously oppresses their own people,” Mullen told ABC’s “This Week.”