Tens of thousands of government supporters took to the streets across Iran on Wednesday as authorities tried to project a sense of stability after a week of nationwide protests sparked deadly clashes and calls for the downfall of the Islamic Republic.
Unconfirmed video footage on social media showed protesters and security forces on the streets of the city of Hamedan; flash bombs or grenades being thrown in Rasht and street fires in Karaj.
The past week's protests have been the largest since the disputed 2009 presidential election, which ended in bloodshed. Trump's words also make it easy for the Iranian regime to dismiss their protests as American-inspired.
However, Rouhani said that the aim of these protests should be to improve the situation in the country and people's lives. Correspondents say it would be a significant escalation were they to become officially involved in policing the protests. Now, they've morphed into demands for wholesale change in Iran's theocratic government.
The current countrywide protests have rocked Iran, ever since people took to the streets on December 28 to demonstrate against rising prices and poor economic conditions. "Leave the country alone"; protesters are also seen tearing down a poster of the supreme leader.
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English-language broadcaster Press TV broadcast yesterday's pro-government rallies live, saying they were to "protest against the violence that has taken place over the last few nights in cities".
In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the protests are bringing attention to economic problems in the nation and that leaders should "should listen to this voice and turn it into an opportunity".
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had made the accusation in his first comments on the protests.
He is a leading expert on Iran and U.S. foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Cash subsidies for millions of people, meanwhile, are proposed to be scrapped and fuel prices set to increase.Protesters also expressed frustration with the government's costly foreign entanglements; Iran is actively involved in various countries in the Middle East, for example spearheading the fight against opposition forces in Syria and lending support to Palestinian militant groups.
The 2015 agreement, in which Iran curbed its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of some worldwide sanctions, remains popular in Iran, but one of the central grievances of the protesters is that average Iranians have seen few benefits from it.
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Tensions between the USA and Israel on one side and Iran on the other have reached new heights since Mr. Trump took office in January 2017. "Public discontent is increasing. people are losing their faith in the establishment system", a third Iranian official said. "I don't think the situation in Iran or the region is ripe enough right now to allow for a regime change in Iran, but Iran is edging toward that point".
Protesters are angry that Iran's youth unemployment rate is edging towards 30 percent, want higher wages and an end to alleged graft. He is seen as a pragmatist at odds with Iran's hardliners and has said in response to the protests that Iranians have a right to criticize the authorities.
One showed protesters in Shahinshar, 315 kilometers (200 miles) south of Tehran, throwing objects at a base of the Basij, a volunteer force affiliated with the paramilitary Guard.
Protests have remained confined to relatively small pockets of mostly young male demonstrators who are demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime. Many in Izeh, some 455 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of Tehran, have hunting rifles in their homes.
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