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With Veiled Regime Change Threats, Trump and NeoCons Blasted for Exploiting Iran Protests

Amid political unrest, war-hungry hawks in the United States condemned for pretending to care for Iranian people and human rights

A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (Photo: AP)

Amid not-so-subtle calls for regime change in Iran, critics on Monday blasted President Donald Trump and his neoconservative allies on the right for misrepresenting and exploiting recent protests in the nation.

Trump wrote on Twitter before 5am: "Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!"

Other Republicans weighed in on the demonstrations as well.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a notorious war hawk who infamously joked about bombing Iran a decade ago, tweeted: "The U.S. stands with the brave protesters who yearn for freedom, peace, and an end to corruption in Iran." Nuclear deal foe and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley praised the "Iranian people [who] are now finding their voice." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who once called Iranians "cheaters and liars," said the protests show the Iran nuclear deal isn't working and that he would lay out what a "better deal would look like and ... would stand with the Iranian people the entire time."

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert tweeted that "Secretary Tillerson reiterates the United States' deep respect for the Iranian people. We call on all nations to stand with us in demanding the regime respect their basic human rights." The tweet came less than two weeks after it was revealed that Tillerson told State Dept. employees that allies and adversaries should get different treatment for human rights abuses.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and serial advocate for bombing innocent people and overthrowing foreign governments he dislikes John Bolton said clearly that regime change should be the goal of the protests, and praised Trump for "taking the side of the demonstrators." Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, even wished "the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom."

Commentators on social media were quick to point out the shallowness of such calls:

According to Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), "there are still more questions than answers" about the ongoing protests that erupted last week and have left at least 12 people dead.

The size of the protests is much smaller than those of 2009, according to reports, but Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica Sunday she believes "the protests are not going to end soon" and could very well swell.  At the moment though, writes Reza Marashi, research director for NIAC, "these protests more closely resemble a continuation of Iran's long-standing civil rights movement rather than an attempt to overthrow the government."

But Marashi says one thing is clear: "Washington would be wise to acknowledge the limits of its power inside Iran. Policymakers and pundits cannot change this simple truth: The problems are Iranian, the protestors are Iranian, and the solution will be Iranian."

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