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Iranians chant slogans as they march in support of the government near the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017. Photo: Hamed Makekpour/AFP/Getty Images

About 4,000 pro-government demonstrators rallied in Tehran on Saturday in support of Iran's leaders after days of unauthorized protests broke out in the country, per The New York Times. The pro-government rallies had been previously scheduled to but "took on new importance" after the anti-government rallies, the AP reported. According to the AFP, the Iranian government warned against further protests.

Why it matters: These have been the largest pro-reform protests in Iran since 2009.

  • AFP: "Since the 2009 protests were ruthlessly put down by the Revolutionary Guards, many middle-class Iranians have abandoned hope of pressing for change from the streets."
  • "But low-level strikes and demonstrations have continued, often on a sector-by-sector basis as bus drivers or teachers or workers from specific factories protest against unpaid wages or poor conditions."

"State news channel IRINN said it had been banned from covering the protests that spread from second city Mashhad on Thursday to hit several towns and cities.""Media coverage inside Iran focused almost exclusively on pro-regime rallies held [today] to mark the defeat of the last major protest movement in 2009, which hardliners call 'the sedition.' The timing was coincidental, since the rallies are held every year on this day."The photos available to Axios, through AP and Getty (including the one above), only show the pro-regime demonstrations."The [earlier] protests initially targeted economic problems, but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole."Video footage on social media showed hundreds marching through the holy city of Qom on Friday evening, with people chanting 'Death to the dictator' and 'Free political prisoners."The context: "The country is facing serious challenges with unemployment, high prices, corruption, lack of water, social gap" and unbalanced government spending, per AFP:"There has been particular anger at welfare cuts and fuel price increases in the latest budget announced earlier this month.""Some of this week's protests were directed against financial scandals linked to unauthorized lending institutions which collapsed with the loss of hundreds of thousands of accounts."

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Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.