- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2018

Russian officials have urged the U.S. not to interfere in the anti-government demonstrations that have rocked Iran for the past week.

“We warn the U.S. against attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday in an interview with state news agency TASS.

President Donald Trump has pledged “great support” for the unprecedented wave of demonstrations. On Wednesday he tweeted: “Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!”

The Associated Press has described the unrest, which began in Mashhad — Iran’s second most populous city situated some 550 miles from Tehran — as being driven by public frustration over the nation’s weak economy and a recent jump in food prices. Since the start of the protests, which are the largest to strike the Islamic republic since 2009, at least 21 people have been reported killed.

Iranian authorities have lashed out at Mr. Trump, accusing him interfering in domestic affairs.

On Thursday, Iran’s army chief claimed police had stopped the unrest, with reports of street action on social media slowing significantly. Some international observers noted the news blackout could stem from regime efforts to block social media reporting of events.

Mr. Ryabkov also accused Washington of attempting to use the protests “to raise new issues with regard to the JCPOA”, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal, which limits Iran’s nuclear development. Mr. Trump has long been a vocal critic of the agreement.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has called on the U.N. to hold an emergency Security Council meeting on Iran.

• Dan Boylan can be reached at dboylan@washingtontimes.com.

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