- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2020

Amid growing protests and anger in the streets of Iran, President Trump on Sunday delivered a blunt warning to the government in Tehran.

“To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Mr. Trump said in a Sunday morning Twitter post. “Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free! Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”

Protests across Iran grew on Sunday after the Iranian government was forced to admit that it accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner last week, killing all 176 people abroad and sparking outrage around the world. The shootdown came just after Iran launched ballistic missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq, bringing Washington and Tehran to the brink of all-out war.

The demonstrations across Iran highlight how anger inside the country is now turning on the Iranian government itself. Leaders in Tehran first denied that they were responsible for the downing of the plane only to reverse course as the truth became clear.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” a group of Iranian protesters shouted on Sunday during a demonstration in Tehran, according to Reuters.

Demonstrators also reportedly chanted “Death to the dictator,” referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

SEE ALSO: Protests erupt after Iranian government admits shooting down airplane

Iranian leaders have apologized for the mistake and vowed that those responsible will be prosecuted.

Trump administration officials on Sunday reiterated that they’re willing to sit down with the Iranian government and negotiate for a permanent end to the country’s nuclear weapons program. At the same time, U.S. officials tried to capitalize on the growing protests and drive a wedge between the government in Tehran and Iranian citizens.

“They want the same things that most people around the world want. They want prosperity,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program on Sunday. “They want the ability to live their lives, to raise their children. And we do support those same aspirations for people wherever they are. I just think you see a very corrupt regime that the Iranian people are finally standing up and trying to hold them accountable.”

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide