UNITED NATIONS — A U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on the protests roiling Iran is putting Tehran on notice that “the world will be watching” what it does, the U.S. ambassador said Friday.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley also said the international community can’t let Iran silence protesters’ messages, particularly by blocking some social media platforms.
The U.S. called Friday’s meeting after giving moral support to the anti-government protesters in a week of demonstrations and counterdemonstrations. Russia said Washington was overstepping into Iran’s domestic affairs.
At least 21 people have been killed amid the anti-government protests and unrest over the country’s economic woes — demonstrations Iran has accused the U.S. of stirring up.
U.S. President Donald Trump and members of his administration have praised the anti-government protesters as people standing up to a repressive and corrupt regime. Haley said Friday that “the world should applaud their courage,” and the U.S. “stands unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves.”
“The Iranian regime is finally on notice: The world will be watching what you do,” she said.
Ahead of the meeting, a Russian deputy foreign minister said it was an American attempt to violate Iran’s sovereignty.
“The United States 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,” Sergei Ryabkov said Friday in comments carried by the Interfax news agency.
Russia, a council member, has close ties with Iran, which isn’t.
Some other members urged a careful approach to weighing in on the protests: “Yes, of course, to vigilance and call for full respect of freedom of expression, but no to instrumentalization of the crisis from the outside — because it would only reinforce the extremes, which is precisely what we want to avoid,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre said before the meeting.
Iran’s prosecutor general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, alleged Thursday that an American CIA official was the “main designer” of the demonstrations. And Iran’s U.N. 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.”
Trump’s administration has denied having any hand in the demonstrations, saying they arose completely spontaneously. The CIA declined to comment.
The president’s tweets have not called for violence or disruptive acts, but he has commended them. 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.” He also has described Iran as “failing at every level” and declared it is “TIME FOR CHANGE!”
Iran’s interior minister said up to 42,000 people took part during the week of protests. The days of pro-government rallies drew crowds in the tens of thousands.