As protests continued for a third day in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted his support for the protesters in that country.
Pompeo, who is due to give his first major policy speech on Iran next Monday, tweeted, “We support the Iranian people who are demonstrating against an oppressive government. 3 deaths & Internet interruption show the regime’s true nature."
Following Pompeo’s tweet, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio followed suit.
Iran analyst Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News that “Secretary Pompeo’s tweet is spot-on. At every juncture, the Islamic Republic continues to prove that it does not care about the interests or well-being of the Iranian people.”
Ben Taleblu continued, “I hope concrete actions in support of the freedom of communication for the Iranian people, and against the interests and assets of the regime, complement the Secretary’s tweet.”
Lisa Daftari, an Iran affairs expert and founding editor of The Foreign Desk, said it was significant that the secretary of state would tweet out such a message.
She said: “For almost four decades Iran’s people have believed that any political movement, including regime change, would have to be supported by the West. For that reason, statements made in support of recent protests, including Pompeo’s tweet, cannot be underestimated.”
According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an influential coalition of Iranian opposition groups, the third consecutive day of protests began during Friday prayers.
The information stated: “Despite (the) dispatch of special anti-riot units to Kazerun from nearby cities, the people chanted slogans against the regime’s governor at An-Nabi Mosque and turned their backs on him. Shortly thereafter, clashes began at the Friday prayer congregation, which was disrupted. People are clashing with the security forces at Shohada (martyrs) Square right now.”
The NCRI stated that according to local sources, the death toll had risen to three. There are also people missing. It also stated that bodies of the dead have yet to be handed over to their families and internet connections were still cut.
At the same time, Iranian media, quoting local officials, claimed that just one person had been killed, and another news agency quoted the local governor as indicating that the MEK (a member of the NCRI coalition) was playing a role in the protests.
Tabelu concluded that “the Kazerun protests deserve greater coverage. Major protests in Iran like 2009 and 2017-2018 did not appear out of a social vacuum. They drew on unaddressed grievances for political, social, and economic change."
The recent round of protests started Wednesday over a decision to split the city of some 150,000 people into two townships. Security forces opened fire against a large protest against the plan as unrest continued into its third day.