Iran Daily: At Least 22 Dead as Supreme Leader Blames Foreign “Enemies” for Protests

Protest in Ahwaz in southern Iran, January 1, 2018

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See also Who are the Protesters in Iran?

UPDATE 1915 GMT: The reformist Association of Combatant Clerics, led by former President Mohammad Khatami, has supported the Goverment position:

Without doubt the Iranian people are confronted with difficulties in their daily lives… and have the right to peacefully demand and protest.

But the events of recent days have shown that opportunists and troublemakers have exploited the demonstrations to create problems, insecurity and destroy public buildings, while insulting sacred religious and national values.

The clerics said violence in the protests would help Iran’s “enemies”. It called on people to support “reformist methods” to deal with Iran’s problems.

Demonstrators in Hamedan in western Iran chant, “Khamenei is a murderer”:

UPDATE 1815 GMT: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterates the Government line on protests while jabbing at Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia:

UPDATE 1615 GMT: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has posted a chart of price rises in Iran in November-December, ranging from more than 4% for fuel to 14% for a range of food and drink to more than 21% for vegetables.

UPDATE 1530 GMT: Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaghari has insisted, “In most parts of the country, the situation is now normal and the unrest that took place in certain areas will soon end with the people’s cooperation and the efforts of security forces.”

Zolfaghari said police and security forces had exercised “maximum tolerance” to bring the situation under control, but “decisively countered the saboteurs”.

President Rouhani’s senior advisor Mohammad Baqer Nobakht told a press conference that the Government respects the right to protest under a legal framework.

He said Iran’s Constitution distinguishes between rioting and protesting without disrupting public security, but “even the rioters should be dealt with within the framework of law.”

Clashes tonight in Shiraz:

Protests in Tehran:

Clashes earlier in Tuysarkan in western Iran:

UPDATE 1320 GMT: Five independent labor organizations are demanding “an end to poverty and misery”, an end to repression and rights to organize and assemble for workers in Iran.

In interviews with AFP, Tehran residents describe financial struggles:

UPDATE 1315 GMT: Claimed footage (Warning — Graphic) of protesters shot Shahinshahr near Isfahan:

State media is framing most of the 22 deaths so far as the fault of “rioters”. It claimed six killed by security forces in Qahderijan had tried to storm a police station. “Armed rioters” were said to have killed an 11-year-old boy and injured his father in Khomeinishahr and to have slain a securityguard in Kahriz Sang.

UPDATE 1230 GMT: The Supreme Leader has spoken for the first time about the surge in protests across Iran.

Addressing families of Iran’s war dead, Ayatollah Khamenei blamed the rallies on outside powers: “During the events of the past several days, Iran’s enemies, using the various tools at their disposal, including money, weapons, politics, and security apparatus, have allied to create problems for the Islamic establishment.”

Khamenei insisted that “the spirit of courage, sacrifice, and faith” in the Iranian nation stood in the enemy’s way.

Unlike President Rouhani, the Supreme Leader did not acknowledge a right to protest or any of the issues raised by the demonstrations: Instead, he issued an implicit warning that Iran could succumb to the protests across North Africa and the Middle East from 2011, declaring the “woeful situation” of those countries who have been targeted by “foreign invasion”.

Khamenei tried to rally support by calling on the spirit of the 1980s war with Iraq, saying that if “enemies” had made it into the Islamic Republic, “they would have had no mercy and a situation considerably worse than that of Libya and Syria would have been created for Iran.”

He assured, “I have something to say on these events, and I will speak to the dear people when the time is right.”

KHAMENEI 02-01-18

The Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, pinned blame on Saudi Arabia. He proclaimed that 27% of Twitter hashtags on the protests were created by Saudis, saying that Riyadh has “recruited some foreigners to work in the organization, for they cannot do it themselves”.

Meanwhile, the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has warned that detained protesters may face the death penalty if they are put on trial.

Mousa Ghazanfarabadi said, “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh” — waging war against God — which is a capital offense.

Ghazanfarabadi emphasized that attending rallies which are not sanctioned by the Interior Ministry is illegal. He said protesters could be charged with acting against national security and damaging public properties.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: At least 22 people have reportedly been killed as Iran enters a sixth day of protests across the country on Tuesday.

State media put out the death toll and said hundreds have been wounded. Regime outlets claimed a policeman was among the dead.

President Rouhani followed up his national address on Sunday with a declaration to legislators yesterday that the Islamic Republic will deal with a “small and minority group” of “rioters and lawbreakers” exploiting the protests over economic conditions and political and social issues.

“The enemy will not remain silent vis-à-vis the nation’s progress and greatness, but there are also deceived people among the protesters who have rightful demands,” he asserted.

In his Sunday speech, Rouhani had balanced his warnings against violence with an anknowledgement of the right to protest, On Monday he moved farther towards an emphasis on blame of “foreign powers”. He claimed “the enemies of Iran” could not tolerate Tehran’s diplomatic achievements, especially in a “confrontation” with the US and Israel, and said some had threatened to take regional problems into Tehran.

Rouhani did say that not all of those demonstrating were taking orders from foreigners, but were motivated by their “sentiments and problems”. He maintained that the Government could use the protests to build support for its economic policies: “I believe that what happened in recent days was apparently a type of threat, which should be turned into an opportunity.”

He assured, “Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing.”

Revolutionary Guards Insist Tehran is “Peaceful”

The Revolutionary Guards commander in Tehran insisted that Tehran “is peaceful”.

Brigadier General Mohammad Kowsari said, “We will not allow insecurity to continue in Tehran”; however, he proclaimed that the Guards have had no role in containing protests and that police are in charge and dealing with the situation.

Protests and clashes were reported in parts of the capital. Video showed security forces using water cannon to disperse people.

In Enghelab Square in Tehran — “Death to the dictator”:

There were larger gatherings in the area around Isfahan. Conservative media said a police officer was killed and three wounded by a man with a hunting rifle in Najafabad. Five protesters were said to have been killed in Qahderijan, with a crowd then attacking a government building.

Fuladshahr, near Isfahan:

Tear gas used against protesters in Shadegan in Khuzestan Province in western Iran:

In Zanjan in northwest Iran:

Detentions of activists are being reported, not only by colleagues by also by semi-offical media, who said some were behind a channel on the messaging application Telegram — now blocked by the regime, along with Instagram — to organize protests.

The Interior Ministry, saying that 90% of those in the protests are under 25, declared, “The unrest will be controlled more seriously from tonight.”

Many Iranians reported on Monday that they have received a text message from an unknown number threatening them with charges of “anti-revolutionary“ crimes if they participate in protests.

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  1. The Iranians are totally unprepared for this, in particular the traditionally useless foreign-based opposition. Therefore it is best to take this gradually and work on the organization and power transition and ‘day after’ issues as opposed to try to bring a mass into the streets just to be shot by the Islamofascists resulting in massive deaths. Iranians do not want another Syria happening there as the democratic nations are totally paralyzed and will not lend a helping hand due to pressure from regressive western leftwing elements (in cahoots with rightwing isolationists) who side with the Iranian Islamic regime as a bulwark against western “imperialism, hegemony, and capitalism”.

    • ” Iranians do not want another Syria happening there ”

      I can’t see what else can happen. The regime, and especially the IRGC, is like a dragon guarding its treasure. It can only respond with teeth, claws and flames. Any districts or cities taken over by the rebels will be bombed and shelled to destruction, just as in Syria.

      It is the traditional medieval approach: if a province rebels, the King lays waste to it, destroying the crops and burning the towns.

      • That is what had been forecast to happen in 1978 during the Islamic Revolution. The Shah eventually gave up on the idea. The Islamists are far more savage than the Shah, but the hope is that sane minds may prevail and bloodshed would be limited. Syria had the additional complexity of multiple ethnicities and sects involved in an existential conundrum. Iran will not have that issue. Time will tell, so that is why it is important to take it easy and not trigger such an event.

  2. This is probably the best thing that could happen to Syria. Khamenei will have to decide if he wants the IRGC in Syria killing the Syrian people that want freedom or in Iran killing the Iranian people that want freedom. He will probably have to split the IRGC so that he can deal with both. That means that it will be weakened in both countries and makes it a good time for the Syrian rebels to ramp up their efforts and for the Iranian people to take over their country. Putin must be hitting the Vodka bottle hard now!

    • Speaking of hypocrisy, I’m sure the commie who supports nuclear war and horrific mass murdering regimes such as those in North Korea and Syria is just all tore up about some deaths. LOL. If Honduras had an anti-American regime you’d be happily cheering them on as well. I enjoy lame attempts at whataboutism as much as the next guy despite the obvious stench of desperation they often exude. But hey it’s nothing a nuclear war or two couldn’t fix. Am I rite, comrade? LMAO.
      The Iranian people must be doing something right if it’s making the desperate commie and Islamist(quite the pair, lol) sweat. I am enjoying watching you two freak out and resort to increasingly hopeless propaganda/agitprop.

      • If you ignore the symbols and colours of Marxism and that of Islamism, they become mirror images. Once the stupid uneducated idealistic youth decided that Marxism is no longer credible, they moved into Islamism. Lots of Marxist have converted to Islam in the past many years. Could Barbar be next?

  3. Iran blames Saudi Arabia for inciting the latest riots:

    “Based on studies, around 27% of the hash tags which have been made belong to the Saudis. Of course, they don’t belong to the Saudi people but the Saudi government, meaning the government of Mohammed bin Salman (the crown prince), launches these hash tags, and those who do this are the Israeli and westerners. The hash tags about the situation in Iran have been launched from the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia,”

    Prince Mohammad bin Salman last year vowed to “take the battle inside of Iran”. The IRGC has also blamed the MEK terror group which still has a number of activists and supporters on the ground within Iran:

    “Today, we are witnessing that the anti-revolutionaries, the monarchists, Monafeqin (hypocrites as MKO members are called in Iran), the US and al-Saud as well as a grouplet led by a fugitive clown are misusing the social and economic protests of our country’s people and have turned them into riots and sabotage acts…”The slogans chanted in the past two or three days by the rioters clearly showed that Manafeqin and the monarchists are behind this story,”

  4. “Unlike President Rouhani, the Supreme Leader did not acknowledge a right to protest or any of the issues raised by the demonstrations.”

    Where does he state that there is no right to protest? Please provide the quote or retract this duplicitous and specious statement. Simply not referring to a right to protest, does not mean denying there is a right.

    Btw, in 2009, Khamenei clearly stated that the opposition had the right to pursue legal channels to challenge the vote count and any irregularities:

    Khamenei, who has authorized a partial vote recount, said proper legal channels should be used for any challenge to the election outcome.” What he did state, and what you have since twisted, was that “Arm-wrestling in the street must stop”.

    • Again, he did not acknowledge — at any point in the statement — a right to protest. Maybe he forgot.

      Or maybe he does not believe in any right to be on the streets, if he and the regime are the focus of dissent. “Legal channels”, in a regime which shut them down in 2009, is not an acknowledgement that protest can be allowed.

      • It is specious to claim someone did not acknowledge a right to protest merely by not mentioning such a right. In 2009, legal channels were offered to Mousavi and he actually did avail of them to the Guardians council which investigated his complaints:

        “Iran’s top legislative body says it is investigating 646 complaints from the three defeated presidential candidates over last week’s election. The Guardian Council said it had invited Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai to a meeting on Saturday to discuss the complaints.”

        The Guardians council published their report addressing all of the official complaints:

      • Iran protests now an armed insurrection against the state:

        1. In Qahderijan, six people were killed after they engaged in clashes with security forces while attempting to storm a police station and seize guns.

        2. Separately, armed rioters killed an 11-year-old boy and injured his father in Khomeinishahr as the family was passing by the scene of the scuffles.

        3. Elsewhere, in Kahriz Sang, the assailants armed with shotguns targeted two security guards, killing one of them and wounding the other.

        4. Meanwhile, in the city of Takestan in northern Qazvin Province, the rioters raided the seminary center and the office of the Friday Prayers’ leader and Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization. They broke the buildings’ windows, damaged public property and set fire to a car and three motorbikes.

        5. In another incident in Lorestan’s Doroud on Sunday, a father and his son lost their lives when their car was hit by a fire truck stolen by the rioters.

  5. The mullahs will soon be checkmate. The demonstrations will come around again because of the combined complexity of their problems that will not subside anytime soon. Had they not intervened using guns, they’d be toppled soon. Now that they did intervene, everyone has witnessed their brutality once again. And everyone has also witnessed how despised they are with the Iranian people. This considerably weakens their diplomatic standing at a time when their misuse of power is no longer so easily tolerated by certain governments. The panic reported from an IRI government meeting accurately reflects this quandary.

    • But will it matter? The mullahs can just let this stuff run out of steam. No reason for them to actually do any suppression. People can protest all they want. It doesnt seem the mullahs care. From their perspective, it’s been a great year. The only way change will happen, imo, is a syria style revolution/rebellion. I wonder who would supply the ground troops if that happened.

      • If this goes to armed rebellion, then the international community will have to intervene with weapons and a NFZ. Is the international community ready for this? Certainly not. Will the regressive left and the far-right try to block the international community to assist the uprising, certainly yes. Already Guardian is writing articles why the bloody Iranian regime should remain, making excuses Saudi this and Israel that.

        • intervene? why would that happen?

          My comment on “who would supply the troops” was in reference to how Iran has supplied the manpower for Assad.

      • It is doubtful if this uprising will lead to a civil war. One side will back off. Iranians are not like civilization-lacking Arabs or warlord infested multi-ethnic Afghanis. A conflagration like Syria is essentially meaningless in the Iranian context.

        But there are many sources of military support for the regime: Iraqi Shiites, Lebanese Hezbollahis, Palestinian Marxists and even Islamists, even the SAA if need be. Afghani militias and Hezaras. I would not even rule out Taliban/AQ, ISIS. Russian and Pashtun mercenaries, Chechens. Finally as last resort there are the Russians and possibly Erdogan.

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