Iranians have staged massive demonstrations against their oppressive theocratic regime in the past, said Jim Geraghty in NationalReview.com, but “this latest round of protests feels a little different.” After initially blaming mechanical problems, the government was forced to admit last week that its military—on high alert because it had just launched a retaliatory missile attack against U.S. bases in Iraq—accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane shortly after it took off from Tehran’s airport, killing 176 people, including 82 Iranians. Protesters took to the streets across the country, shouting “Death to liars!” and calling Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei a “murderer.” They tore up photos of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani—whose death Iran was avenging with its missile attack—and replaced them with images of dead passengers. The regime predictably blamed “U.S. adventurism,” and “yet a lot of Iranians are calling that nonsense—even after being subjected to anti-American propaganda for a decade.” Clearly, they’ve reached “their breaking point.”
Sadly, Democrats and the liberal media joined Iran in blaming the accident on Trump, said Karol Markowitz in NYPost.com. CNN analyst Susan Hennessey said the plane was caught in “the crossfire” between Iran and America, even though Iran was the only country that was firing missiles on the night of the plane’s destruction. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the flight “collateral damage” from Trump having ordered Soleimani’s death and, earlier, having “reneged on the nuclear deal that we had with Iran.” Now, I understand that “politics is a dirty business” and “blaming opponents is standard.” But pointing fingers at Trump for Iran’s negligence, and “making excuses for a leading state sponsor of terrorism,” crosses the line.
In Iran, the continuing protests leave the theocratic leadership “in a precarious position,” said Miriam Berger in The Washington Post. Security forces killed as many as 1,500 people during November protests that occurred after the government cut fuel subsidies. Inflation exceeded 30 percent in 2018 and 2019 amid Trump’s campaign of applying “maximum pressure” via sanctions. In an attempt to quell the protests, the regime has responded with beatings, arrests, and live bullets. But even if the tactics clear the streets, Iranians’ “raw anger” at their rulers will remain. ■