Biden missing in action as Iranians protest regime and declare ‘America is not the enemy’
The protests could have a global impact as demonstrators call out the regime’s spending on terror ambitions
By Benjamin Weinthal | Fox News
Protests against the legitimacy of Iran’s Islamic Republic continue to sweep across the vast country triggered by a multitude of reasons including rising food prices, the collapse of a twin-tower apartment building killing at least 29 people (with more dead feared under the rubble) and a considerable loathing of the clerical regime.
As the protests continue to intensify and spread, U.S. President Joe Biden has stayed on the sidelines and not personally weighed in on the revolts against the clerical regime.
During Thursday night’s protests in the southwestern city of Abadan, where the building had collapsed, people chanted slogans against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself, saying “Khamenei is a murderer; his rule is illegitimate,” despite the deployment of riot police.
Police fired tear gas into the air to disperse the angry crowd of hundreds near the building site, online video analyzed Saturday shows. Videos shared online showed a massive crowd near the Metropol Building on Friday night, with lights shining on its facade. In a second video, demonstrators at street level are seen chanting: “Our enemy is here; they lie that it is America!” A third video showed an angry crowd with one shot heard. The person filming turned and ran, shouting: “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”
According to human rights activists and Iranians meticulously documenting the regime’s violent crackdown, at least five people have been killed and scores of demonstrators have been incarcerated.
The prominent Iran expert Alireza Nader posted video footage showing demonstrators in the city of Bushehr, located on the Persian Gulf, also declaring: “Our enemy is right here [in Iran], they lie and say it’s America.”
The chant “Death to the Dictator!” was also voiced, referring to Khamenei.
In this photo released by official website of the office of Iranian Senior Vice-President, on Friday, May 27, 2022, ruins of a tower at under construction 10-story Metropol Building remains after it collapsed on Monday, in the southwestern city of Abadan, Iran. (Iranian Senior Vice-President Office via AP)
The shocking deaths in Abadan prompted Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi to devote part of her acceptance speech to the suffering victims after winning best actress at the Cannes Film Festival in France on Saturday. Amir Ebrahimi lives in exile due to a smear campaign regarding her romantic life.
“The Biden administration and EU continue to talk about social justice but that just seems to be cheap talk for votes,” Banafsheh Zand, an Iranian-American journalist and human rights expert, told Fox News Digital. “That social justice does not seem to extend to everyone around the world though.”
“That Biden did not even address the disaster in Iran and the huge anti-regime demonstrations, is another sign of him wanting to cover up the Khomeinist regimes’ crimes against humanity, just so he can make his disastrous [nuclear] deal,” she added. “The Iranian people, for the most part, now consider both the Democratic Party and the European leaders as hypocrites and foes.”
Lisa Daftari, also an Iran expert, wrote on her website, The Foreign Desk, “As protests enter their third week in provinces across Iran with demonstrators calling for the death of the Iranian supreme leader and the overthrow of the hard-line, radical regime, the Iranian opposition is coming to social media in droves expressing their frustration at being generally ignored and unsupported by the international community.”
She continued, “The protesters, whose platform is mainly centered upon the government’s corruption and lack of human rights, have a global message; they’re calling out the regime spending billions of dollars on its terror ambitions and leaving the Iranian people without subsidies to purchase basic goods and live comfortable lives.”
March 08, 2020: A huge mural of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei Iran’s Supreme Leader painted next to a smaller one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (R) seen on Motahari street on March 8, 2020 in Tehran, Iran. The message on the wall reads “The power and influence and dignity of America in the world is on the fall and extermination” and on top of the building, another slogan reads “We are standing till the end”. (Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
The United States government—both under Democratic and Republican administrations—has recognized Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism.
Daftari, who speaks fluent Farsi, quoted one anti-regime activist saying: “I just want the international community to place themselves in our situation, and explain how they would feel. If your entire life is ruined because of a bunch of terrorists and others don’t care about you, how would you feel?”
The lack of strong condemnation of the Iranian regime’s violent crackdown on dissent and of solidarity for the protesters from the international community has, according to Daftari, “to do with the desire of major Western countries to negotiate and revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran.”
The US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany are desperately trying to reach a deal with Iran’s regime in Vienna to provide economic sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran promising to temporarily restrict its production of nuclear weapons.
Len Khodorkovsky, a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Trump administration and senior adviser to the U.S. representative for Iran, tweeted, “I know what President Trump said to the Iranian people during #IranProtests. President Biden, your turn.”
Khodorkovsky embedded a tweet from Donald Trump from 2020 in which the former president declared that he stands with the people of Iran and added: “We are following your protests closely. Your courage is inspiring.”
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, meets with senior White House advisors Tuesday evening, Jan. 7, 2020, in the Situation Room of the White House, on a further meeting about the Islamic Republic of Iran missile attacks on U.S. military facilities in Iraq. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
On May 16, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted, “Brave Iranian protesters are standing up for their rights. The Iranian people have a right to hold their government accountable. We support their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression online and offline − without fear of violence and reprisal.”
Iran’s regime is following its playbook used in past protests against the theocratic state. Iranians in Khuzestan, Esfahan and Tehran reported significant, serious disruptions to internet access, including blockages when trying to upload images of protests to social media.
Amir Taheri, a veteran Iranian journalist who has written extensively about the Islamic Republic, tweeted: “The Khomeinist clique see use of force as sole method for calming public discontent. They are sending armed anti-riot units to make large scale arrests in Khuzestan cities: Abadan, Ahvaz, Shadegan, Dezful & Izeh. Their incompetence is matched by their violence.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.