Pompeo’s support for rioters shows depth of his anti-Iran sentiments: Ebtekar

November 24, 2019 - 16:25

TEHRAN - Iranian Vice President for Family and Women’s Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s support for rioters in the recent protests in Iran revealed the depth of his anti-Iran feelings.

In an interview with IRNA published on Sunday, Ebtekar said that there are enemies against Iran who are being supported financially by Saudi Arabia, pointing to Pompeo’s comments as an example.

Protests were sparked in some cities in Iran against the government’s measure in increasing petrol price on November 15. The protests were derailed as thugs attacked security forces with knives and guns, pillaged stores, put banks and state buildings ablaze, etc.

On November 16, Pompeo tweeted, “As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you.”

On November 21, Pompeo wrote another tweet in both English and Persian, saying “I have asked the Iranian protesters to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protesters. The U.S. will expose and sanction the abuses.” 

Ebtekar said, “In the midst of riots, Pompeo clearly asked the rioters to send films and videos for us, an issue which shows the height of his anti-Iran feelings.” 

Ebtekar also said despite the commotion created over the temporary shutdown of private Wi-Fi networks to access internet, the administration of Hassan Rouhani has been a strong defender of the “free flow of information” and has always insisted on transparency and expression of views by the public.

Ebtekar, who served as the chief of the Environment Protection Organization in Rouhani’s first administration, said if WiFi was cut for a few days it was because of the “special situation” that the country was facing. 

She added, “In such special situations, the administration is not the only decision maker.”

On the protests, she said such demonstrations have taken place in different times in the country. The vice president also said currently millions of people in other countries are holding demonstrations.

He was indirectly referring to protests in Lebanon, Iraq, and Chile.

“Iran is not the only country in the world which is witnessing such problems once in a while,” she remarked.

Ebtekar classifies protesters into peaceful demonstrators and rioters

The vice president said based on the constitution the people had the right to hold protests, however some opportunists misused the situation and committed violent acts.

The rioters “exploited the discontentment among the people which has been created by the U.S. tough economic sanctions” to commit vandalism, she lamented.

She added the government had been seeking to specify a special place for peaceful demonstrations but the efforts were aborted by the “Administrative Court of Justice”. However, she expressed hope that a place would be designated for peaceful rallies.

Certain media outlets, such as the London-based Mano-To TV, and foreign officials who have animosity with Iran used the protests to vent their anger Iran. 

In addition to Pompeo, his boss Donald Trump also expressed joy over protests in Iran.

Trump and his lieutenants have been tightening economic sanctions against Iran to make the citizens exhausted and create insecurity in the country.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on November 18 that the U.S. claims of support for the Iranian people is a “shameful lie”.

“A regime which imposes economic terrorism and prevents sending food and medicine to ordinary people, including the elderly and sick ones, can never make an obscene claim of supporting the Iranian people,” Zarif said.

He said, “Lawful protest is the people’s right which has been recognized by the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is no need for deceitful supports of regimes which seek to reach their illegitimate and illegal objectives through imposing economic pressure, even in area of food and medicine, on the Iranian people.”

He added, “Countries which have shown no capability and will to counter the United States’ economic terrorism and are hiding their incapability through supporting chaos should bear responsibility for consequences of their dangerous provocations.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on November 17 that the Iranian people condemn Pompeo’s support for rioters.

“Actions being taken by a number of rioters and saboteurs who are supported by someone like him [Pompeo] have nothing to do with the insightful Iranian people,” Mousavi said.

He added that the Iranian people are well aware that such supports “are not out of sympathy”.

“Interesting! They are expressing sympathy with the people who are under the United States’ economic terrorism,” the Foreign Ministry official noted. 

Mousavi added that Pompeo is claiming support for the Iranian people while he had said before that Iran should surrender if it wants its people to eat.

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Switzerland’s Ambassador to Tehran Markus Leitner, whose country represents the U.S. interests in Iran, over Pompeo’s comments.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has slammed the comments by Pompeo on the Iranian protests as “hypocritical”.

“[The statement by Mike Pompeo] left us puzzled since most of the things that sparked the discontent and other processes that are taking place in Iran were actually brought upon the Islamic Republic by the U.S.’ own actions,” she said, according to Sputnik.

Zakharova noted that Tehran’s decision to raise fuel prices, which sparked protests, was a result of the “illegal and massive sanctions pressure” that the U.S. is applying against Iran.

She added that the Iranian population’s rights to receive food, medication, and other necessities have been violated due to Washington’s actions.

“The way we see it – this was the U.S. goal all along, when they decided to initiate the policy of sanctions pressure against Iran. It turns out that, on the one hand, Washington supports the aspirations of the Iranian people, at least verbally, and on the other hand, they are doing anything possible to make the population of this country suffer”, she said.

In a commentary last week, the British newspaper Independent said the U.S. support for the Iranian protesters is not genuine as Washington’s sanctions has caused economic crisis in the country.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, said that if Mike Pompeo really wants to help the people of Iran, he can move to end their collective punishment through sanctions that are strangling their health and economy.

“The last thing they need is for the U.S. State Department to undermine their protests by manipulating their grievances for political potshots,” she said.

A senior Democratic Congressional aide told The Independent, “No one seriously believes they care about the rights of Iranians.”

Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi wrote on his Twitter account on Friday that the U.S. sanctions have not even exempted “cancer patients and EB children”.

Ebtekar said increase in gasoline price was a decision taken by the Islamic Republic system including the heads of the three branches of government.

The Rouhani administration has insisted that the all the proceeds from hike in gasoline price will be deposited into people’s bank accounts.

Ebtekar said partial cut in gasoline subsidy benefits families with low incomes, adding it is the rich classes of the society which are mostly benefiting from heavily subsidized gasoline.

She also said the decision helps save “national resources”.  

The Iranian society is addicted to cheap fuel. Whenever the administrations in successive times have decided to partially cut gasoline subsidy the people have reacted with indignation. The addiction to fuel subsidy goes back to even the Shah regime, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Currently, gasoline consumption in Iran has reached about 110 million liters per day. Cheap gasoline and diesel have led to their smuggling to neighboring countries.

Experts and officials has warned that if gasoline consumption continue to rise at the current rate, Iran would be forced to import gasoline again.

Heavily subsidized energy has made Iran a wasteful country in the world. 

According to statistics released by the Planning and Budget Organization (PBO), Iran pays about 96 billion dollars in fuel subsidy annually.  

Despite a substantial increase in petrol prices, Iran still has the cheapest oil in the world.

The rationed gasoline, which is 60 liters per month, is priced 1500 tomans (35 cents) and any amount beyond that is 3000 tomans (70 cents).

The calculation is based on the official rate of 4200 tomans per dollar. However, the value of dollar in the free market is much higher, around 11,500 tomans. 

In addition, the Oil Ministry is giving more gasoline to taxis, pickups and other passenger cars at the fixed price of 1500 tomans.


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