The United States and Russian Federation were set to face off Friday at the United Nations Security Council over how the worldwide community should respond to the protests in Iran, after the USA called for an emergency session as it ramps up pressure on the hardline regime in Tehran.
In contrast to the US response to the Iran protests in 2009, where the Obama administration took a relatively hands-off approach, President Trump has promised "great support" for the demonstrators, while the State Department has hinted at sanctions for officials who abuse protesters and said that it will use Facebook and Twitter to communicate directly with activists. And Iran's United Nations envoy, Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo, complained in a letter to the Security Council president Wednesday that Trump's "absurd tweets" had "incited Iranians to engage in disruptive acts".
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley also said the worldwide community can't let Iran silence protesters' messages, particularly by blocking some social media platforms. Trump expressed "such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government" and pledged "great support from the United States".
Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said Friday that "it is a discredit for the Security Council" to discuss what he called a purely domestic matter.
A total of 21 people have died and hundreds have been arrested since December 28 as protests over economic woes turned against the Iranian regime, with attacks on government buildings and police stations.
"[The U.S.] continues to pursue a policy of open and implicit interference in the internal affairs of other states - doing it unabashedly, openly, under the slogan of caring for democracy and human rights, directly infringing on the sovereignty of other states", Ryabkov said, according to the Associated Press. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the session put Iran on notice that "the world will be watching" what it does.
On Thursday, the United States formally requested an open meeting, and Russian Federation then called for the closed-door talks at 2:30 pm (1930 GMT) Friday.
Iran's interior minister said up to 42,000 people took part during the week of protests.
Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, has portrayed the Security Council meeting as an American attempt to violate Iran's sovereignty.
"However worrying the events of the last few days in Iran may be, they do not constitute per se a threat to global peace and security".
"It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this council has allowed itself to be abused by the current USA administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate", he said.
Russia, a council member, has close ties with Iran, which isn't. Iran has also seen three days of large pro-government demonstrations.
"This is a matter of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, but it is also a matter of worldwide peace and security", said Haley.
Khoshroo also said the United States had abused its power as a permanent member of the Security Council by calling for a meeting to discuss the protests.
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The statement also said Pakistan had been placed on a special watch list for "severe violations of religious freedom". In the United States, meanwhile, experts have become increasingly confused by Trump's escalating rhetoric.
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