Fresh protests over economy in Iran

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The Basij militias intervened to suppress demonstrators in Kermanshah who repeated anti-regime slogans such as "Death to the dictator" and "Death to Rouhani", as well as slogans of solidarity with their counterparts in Mashhad, shouting "Do not be afraid, we are all united".

Iranians citizens continue to protest in several cities on Friday, particularly in the capital, Tehran and Kermanshah in the west of the country.

The demonstrators blamed Rouhani's government for high prices and mocked its hollow promises.

A clip circulating on unofficial Telegram channels purportedly from Nishapur, close to Mashhad, showed protesters chanting "leave Syria alone, think about us".

Police confronted the "illegal" protest "with tolerance", Norouzian said, adding that the authorities arrested a number of people who meant to destroy public property, without providing details. Maryam Rajavi, leader of a resistance organization against the Iranian government, described the protests as an indicator of popular and widespread frustration, which she hopes may lead to reforms in the country.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's response to the protests has been uncharacteristically subdued, leading some to sense weakness or cowardice in the face of public demands for accountable government.

In social media footage, which could not be authenticated, riot police were seen using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds.

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The semiofficial Ilna news agency reported there were smaller protests in Neyshabour, Kashmar, Yazd, and Shahroud on December 28.

The governor of Mashhad dismissed the protest in his city as an "illegal No to High Prices gathering" at first.

Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities.

Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close Rouhani ally, suggested that hardline conservative opponents of the pragmatist president might have triggered the protests but lost control of them.

Rouhani's signature achievement, a deal in 2015 with world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting most global sanctions, has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming.

Rouhani campaigned on economic renewal, including the benefits accruing to Iran from its nuclear deal with the Obama administration, and while progress has certainly been made - Iran's inflation rate is a little under 10 percent today, compared to about 40 percent when Rouhani took over from his deranged predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - the crowd appears to be profoundly dissatisfied with the standard of living, and displeased that Iran is funneling so much money into foreign mischief and imperial ambitions instead of meeting the public's needs at home. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.

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