US fails to get UNSC action on Iranian protests

The US has failed to get the UN Security Council (UNSC) to act on the Iranian protests with most members questioning if it was even the right forum to take up internal affairs of a country while expressing support for the nuclear deal with Tehran that is opposed by President Donald Trump.

At the session convened on Friday at the request of Washington, US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley pledged solidarity with the Iranian protesters and condemned the Tehran government for suppressing them.

Ahead of the meeting it was clear that the Council would not be able to even come up with a resolution or a statement on the Iranian protests because of opposition from veto-wielding permanent member Russia and others.

The demonstrations against economic hardships began on December 28 in Mashad and spread to other places. Citing official media reports, Assistant Secretary-General Taye-Brook Zerihoun said that more than 20 Iranians died during the protests, while over 1,000 protesters were detained.

Council President Kairat Umarov, speaking in his national capacity as Kazakhstan’s Permanent Representative, said that the developments in Iran were a domestic matter and, therefore, did not come under the Council’s purview.

The view was shared by most members, including France and Sweden.

There was concern over the nuclear deal made in 2015 by Iran with the five permanent members, Germany and the European Union that lifted sanctions against Tehran. It has been opposed by Trump who has to certify this month to the US Congress that Iran is complying with it in order for Washington to continue with the terms of the agreement.

“We must be wary of any attempt to exploit this crisis for personal ends,” France’s Permanent Representative Francois Delattre said, adding that the Council must commit to upholding the nuclear agreement.

British Permanent Representative Matthew Ryrcoft gave his country’s backing to the agreement saying that Iran complied with it.

Calling the agreement “one of the international community’s greatest successes in recent memory”, he said Britain was fully committed to it.

Haley said “the people of Iran are rising up” and “if the founding principles of this institution mean anything, we will not only hear their cry, we will finally answer it”.

The statement drew vehement retorts from Russia and Iran, which drew attention to protests within the US that had been put down.

Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said that if the Council followed the reasoning behind convening the the meeting over domestic protests in Iran, it should have met after the protests in the US that followed the killing of an African-American teenager in Ferguson by a white police officer in 2014.

Iran’s Permanent Representative Gholamali Khoshroo brought up the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York in 2011 that was suppressed by law enforcement and other protests.

He said that Trump was joining the Islamic State and its regional patrons to incite attacks on Iran.