WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump posted tweets in support of protesters in Iran who took to the streets after the regime admitted it unintentionally shot down a civilian airliner last week, including two in Farsi, which prompted an Iranian official to accuse Trump of dishonoring the "Persian language."
Trump posted his first tweet in Farsi on Saturday, telling the "brave and suffering Iranian people" that his administration "will continue to stand with you," according to the Google translation of the tweet.
"We are following your protests closely. Your courage is inspiring," the tweet said.
"Hands and tongues smeared with threatening, sanctioning and terrorizing the #Iranian nation, are not entitled to dishonor the ancient #Persian_language," replied Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry.
"By the way, are you actually 'standing by' millions of Iranians whose hero you just assassinated or 'standing against' them?!" he tweeted, referring to the U.S. drone strike that killed Gen. Qasem Soleimani, one of Iran's top military and political figures, this month in Baghdad.
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Hands and tongues smeared with threatening, sanctioning and terrorizing the #Iranian nation, are not entitled to dishonor the ancient #Persian_language.
By the way, are you actually "standing by" millions of Iranians whose hero you just assassinated or "standing against" them?! https://t.co/sfmT0qLXJq pic.twitter.com/6IwJL1uYUh
— S.A MOUSAVI (@SAMOUSAVI9) January 12, 2020
Trump was undeterred and posted another tweet in Farsi on Sunday night – which was a translation of a tweet he wrote in English – that quoted national security adviser Robert O'Brien as saying the protests could force Iran to negotiate with the U.S.
"In fact, I don't care if they are negotiating," tweeted Trump in Farsi. "It's up to them, but don't have nuclear weapons and 'don't kill your protesters.'"
O'Brien said on "Fox News Sunday" that Trump's posts had received the most "likes" of any Farsi-language tweet on record.
Trump has vowed that Iran will not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon as long as he is in the White House. He pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 agreement that had been negotiated by the Obama administration, which granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for the suspension of its nuclear weapons program.
In its place, Trump has instituted a "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran with tighter sanctions and, as in the case of the killing of Soleimani, a military component.
O'Brien said Sunday that the maximum pressure campaign is working and that to fund the regime, Iranian officials will have to try to negotiate with the U.S.
Citing the protests, O'Brien said "people are fed up with this regime."
"If Iran wants to maintain a modern country, a modern economy, they're going to have to come to the table and negotiate. I think that's highly likely," he said.
Meanwhile, Trump kept up the social media component of the maximum pressure campaign.
"Wow! The wonderful Iranian protesters refused to step on, or in any way denigrate, our Great American Flag," he tweeted Monday. "It was put on the street in order for them to trample it, and they walked around it instead. Big progress!"
Wow! The wonderful Iranian protesters refused to step on, or in any way denigrate, our Great American Flag. It was put on the street in order for them to trample it, and they walked around it instead. Big progress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2020
Trump also retweeted a number of posts on Monday falsely accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader, D-N.Y., of supporting the regime. And he shared a post from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announcing he would introduce a resolution in support of the Iranian protesters.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump backs protesters in Farsi, Iran calls it 'dishonor' to language