By Michael Hernandez
President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the U.S. is watching as mass demonstrations persist throughout Iran's major population centers.
"The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime," Trump tweeted. "All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their 'pockets.' The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!"
Trump was apparently referring to sanctions relief given to Iran as part of an international deal with world powers to curb its nuclear program, as well as a cash payout provided to Iran under the Barack Obama administration.
Thousands of Iranians hit the streets beginning Thursday in the northeastern cities of Mashhad and Kashmar to protest rising commodity prices and perceived government mismanagement, according to local media reports. The demonstrations have since spread, including to the capital Tehran.
At least 23 people have been killed and more than 500 reportedly detained in the six days of demonstrations.
In addition, approximately 400 people have been detained, including 200 in Tehran. The other arrests were reported in Arak, Isfahan and Robat Karim and West Azerbaijan province.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the unrest on foreign powers whom he called the "enemies of Iran.
"In recent events, the enemies of Iran united by using different tools in their disposition, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence, in order to create problems for the Islamic system," Khamenei said Tuesday in comments posted to his official website. "What prevents the enemies and their hostile actions is the spirit of courage, self-sacrifice, and faith among the people."
Turkey also weighed in Tuesday, warning against foreign intervention in Iran.
“We wish for peace in the country to be ensured, as soon as possible, and that common sense would prevail to prevent the escalation of the incidents, and that provocative rhetoric and external interventions would be avoided," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
And a day earlier, the U.K. urged dialogue on issues raised by Iranian protesters. “The UK is watching events in Iran closely,” according to Foreign Minister Boris Johnson.
“We believe there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising, and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this,” Johnson said.