Pentagon Chief: Iranian people are 'fed up with' revolutionary regime

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Iranian lawmakers held a closed session on Sunday in which senior security officials briefed them on the protests and the conditions of the detainees, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. The main driving force behind this wave seems to be poor and marginalised social sectors, which did not put forward any clear political demands.

"We can not pick a lifestyle and tell two generations after us to live like that".

The Iranians have been protesting against high unemployment and official corruption in the country since December 28. They caught the attention of many Iranian Americans in Southern California, including Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian-Jewish activist and head of the Los Angeles-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran. On January 7, 23-year-old Sina Ghanbari hung himself in Evin Prison.

Rouhani's dilemma? To grow Iran's economy and improve the quality of life, he needs more foreign investment and more consumer goods. "While other countries stay silent, it's important that the United States speak up loudly against this government crackdown".

"When we see the people of Iran demanding regime change, this is something we here have been demonstrating for the last 39 years", Nikbakht said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames foreigners, including the United States and Israel, for inciting the recent unrests in the Persian country, referring to them as "enemies".

The Supreme Leader is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appoints the heads of the judiciary.

The EU has called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to talks in Brussels on Thursday with his French, British and German counterparts in efforts to preserve the hard-fought deal to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions. By comparison, the president has little power.

U.S. officials and analysts studying Iran believe conservative opponents of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate within Iran's clerically overseen government, started the demonstrations in Mashhad, but quickly lost control of them.

Authorities managed to stifle the protests in part by blocking access to the messaging app Telegram through which demonstrators organized the rallies and shared images from the streets.

Anti-government protesters turned to the same target: the wealthy elite. They fear what they say may be used as an excuse by the Iranian government to retaliate against the 5,000 to 8,000 Jews still living there.

"People's access to social media should not permanently be restricted".

How does a clerical regime speak to a people, 40 million of whom have smartphones connecting them to an outside world where they can see the freedom and prosperity they seek, but their government cannot or will not deliver? If Iran's violent response escalates, so should our pressure, making use of sanctions authority we retain outside the nuclear agreement.

Iranian Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar tweeted on Monday that Rouhani has insisted that all detained students should be released.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, Mattis voiced his support for the protests just as many other top White House officials, including US President Donald Trump, have done.

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