“It’s the maximalism in terms of slogans that’s so surprising,” Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, told Vox. “This is not a movement that’s pulling punches.”
In Washington, President Trump seems to be following the unrest closely. He has tweeted support for the protesters several times, using the unrest to attack the “brutal and corrupt” Iranian government. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador the United Nations, has called for an emergency meeting of the organization's Human Rights Council — a body the administration has harshly criticized.
But even as Trump voices support for the Iranian people, their actions might lead him down a counterproductive path. In two weeks, he could kill the nuclear deal by deciding to reimpose sanctions on Tehran. “He’s not going to want to waive sanctions and keep money flowing to dictators when there are people protesting in the streets,” Richard Goldberg, a former Senate Republican aide who participated in designing sanctions against Iran, told Politico.
Doing so would almost certainly make things in Iran worse, not better. Destabilizing the deal would make it harder to convince foreign companies to invest in Iran. Fresh sanctions would restrict the economy further and certainly do nothing to materially improve the lives of ordinary Iranians. And it would give Iranian leaders an easy scapegoat for their people's poverty.