Internet in Iran is reportedly being slowly restored in some cities after an unprecedented complete shutoff by the government for five days straight.
This after a week ago a mass gas price hike unleashed a wave of popular protests in some 100 cities across Iran, which has seen some 100 to 200+ people killed in clashes with police.
On Friday morning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions on the Iranian official believed responsible for overseeing the nationwide internet blackout, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Jahromi.
The U.S. is sanctioning the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Jahromi, for helping shut down the Iranian internet. We will hold members of the Iranian regime accountable for their violent repression of the Iranian people. #Internet4Iran— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 22, 2019
Pompeo charged Jahromi with "helping shut down the Iranian internet" amid a wave of "violent repression" targeting protesters.
A statement from the global outage monitor Oracle's Internet Intelligence earlier this week called it the "largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran" after protesters took the streets a week ago triggered by a sudden increase in fuel prices by as much as 300% when government subsidies were slashed.
On Thursday Pompeo has issued an unusual call for Iranian protesters to send the United States videos and photos and other evidence "documenting the regime’s crackdown" on protesters.
I have asked the Iranian protestors to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protestors. The U.S. will expose and sanction the abuses. https://t.co/korr5p0woA— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 21, 2019
"I have asked the Iranian protestors to send us their videos, photos, and information documenting the regime’s crackdown on protestors," Pompeo tweeted.
In the opening days of the protests local footage showing severe clashes with police were uploaded to social media sites, which included dramatic scenes of banks and gas stations being torched.
Some among the activist video even appeared to show live ammo being used by security forces to disperse crowds; however, with the nationwide internet outage which ensued starting Saturday into Sunday, those videos came to a trickle.
But like with the early years of the war in Syria, such social media videos are hard if not impossible to verify, much less to determine the precise context of precisely what's going on, or who is doing the shooting.
The internet in Iran is effectively shut down, making it difficult to get a clear picture of what's happening at the #IranProtests.— DW News (@dwnews) November 21, 2019
We verified footage from inside the country to get an unobstructed view of how events have unfolded over the past week. pic.twitter.com/Bvw0qiAoWu
Iranian leaders once again accused the US and Israel this week of being a "hidden hand" attempting to hijack events inside Iran.
Likely, Pompeo's appeal for Iranians to "send videos" will be seen from Tehran as a "Syria-style" propaganda initiative to foster regime change from within.