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Protests In Iran After Government Says It Shot Down Plane


There are people marching in the streets of Tehran this morning and reports of people in the streets of other Iranian cities - that, after the U.S. killed a powerful Iranian general. Iranian government admitted it shot down an airliner taking off from Tehran to Kyiv.

Abas Aslani is editor-in-chief of the Iran Front Page, and he's on the line with us from Tehran. Thank you so much for being with us.

ABAS ASLANI: Hello. Thank you for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What are you seeing in these protests? What is driving people into the streets right now?

ASLANI: Well, the news that a passenger airplane crashed on Wednesday came as a shock to Iranian public. And when, yesterday, it was announced that Iranians unintentionally shot down the airplane, they came as a second, let's say, shock and tragedy to the people. And some people thought that they didn't want to tell the truth to the public and to conceal the fact. That was something - let's say another disaster for the public. On the other hand, the officials - they have been arguing that they needed some time in order to process the information and to get to a primary conclusion and then to announce it to the public.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So people are protesting because, once the admission came out that the Iranians actually shot down this passenger jet, they were incensed. How widespread are these protests?

ASLANI: In terms of the volume of the protests, if we are comparing that to about one month ago, it's much less than those protests and in terms of the number of people attending and in terms of the intensity of the protests. So whether these protests will go for a long time or whether other - more people will be joining to these crowds, that's yet the question.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Former national security adviser John Bolton is tweeting this morning that the Khamenei regime has never been under more stress. Regime change is in the air. That is what he said. How big a worry are these protests for the regime?

ASLANI: Well, the Iranian officials - I think they care about the protests in the country, specifically from one month - I mean, one month ago, which it became something serious. But I think this one is not as serious as - in the - I mean, the previous one. The issue is that if the Iranian public and people there are fed up with the government and its policies in terms of economy or some other issues, it doesn't mean that they are, let's say, looking toward some American officials or the U.S. administration because when it comes to the plane crash, they have the memory of 1988 with - U.S. Army shot down an Iranian passenger plane.

And when it comes to President Donald Trump saying that he supports the Iranian people, people remember the sanctions that have been imposed against Iranians for many years that endangered even the lives of some people, brought economic hardship and even some sick people have lost their lives as a result of those sanctions. And couple of days ago, President Trump - he threatened that they have identified 52 sites to be targeted, including cultural sites. So I would say that maybe people could - I mean, would be fed up with the Iranian government, but it doesn't mean that they are happy with the U.S. administration and government as well.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Abas Aslani, editor-in-chief of the Iran Front Page. Thank you very much.

ASLANI: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.