Iran Daily: “Large Number” of Arrests as Protests Spread Beyond Tehran

Protesters In Jomhouri Avenue, Tehran, Iran, June 24, 2018 (UGC)

Iranian authorities have detained demonstrators as protests over economic conditions spread beyond Iran’s capital Tehran to other cities.

The latest wave of protests, spurred by a historic collapse of the Iranian currency, began on Sunday in Tehran’s cellphone market. They broke out in the Tehran Bazaar on Monday, with marchers then moving towards the Parliament building before they were blocked by police and dispersed with tear gas.

See Iran Daily, June 26: 1000s March in Tehran Over Currency Collapse and Economic Situation

Reports in local Iranian media on Tuesday described protests from Tabriz in northwest Iran to the markets in Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf.

Judiciary officials said “a large number” of demonstrators were arrested, as judiciary head Sadeq Larijani warned that “disrupting economic activities may entail the death sentence”.

In Tehran,officials announced the closure of some metro stations near the Bazaar. Fars, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, said some shops in the Bazaar remain closed. Other reports said demonstrations are also taking place in Bein ol-Haramain Bazaar, Tehran’s traditional market for books and stationery, and the blacksmith and jewellry markets.

Videos on social media also showed closures in the bazaar in Kermanshah in western Iran and in the jewellers market of Tabriz.

Footage from Tabriz:

Rouhani: US Will Not Break Us

With his Government pressure under pressure over the economy and the Iranian Rial, which dropped 20% in value since Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani declared on Tuesday that the US will fail to break the Iranian nation through an “psychological, economic, and political war”

Speaking about the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear deal and promise of sweeping sanctions,
“The Islamic Republic’s tactful performance forced the Americans to leave the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] while bearing the highest cost.”

Rouhani defended the Government’s continued adherence so far to the JCPOA, saying that the Trump Administration had hoped to force an Iranian departure so Tehran would be punished by the UN Security Council:

Today, can America use psychological and economic and eventually political warfare to break our nation? A proud nation that has stood up for its values throughout history; a nation that has resisted and stood strong and is ready to give its life and blood for Islam and Iran.

He tried to assure the public, “Even in the worst case, I promise that the basic needs of Iranians will be provided. We have enough sugar, wheat, and cooking oil. We have enough foreign currency to inject into the market.”

Presidential adviser Hesamoddin Ashna turned his attention to the protests, tweeting, “We should hear the voices coming from the streets and markets. Voices from the street reflect the people’s demands, but we should not mistake the dealers and traders’ voice for that of the poor.”

Meanwhile, the Jomhouri Eslami newspaper focused on hardline challenges to Rouhani, including from the Supreme Leader’s office, as it said “a conspiracy against the Rouhani administration…will not stop here”.

The daily added, “It would be a mistake on the part of the plotters to think that they would rise to power if the Rouhani administration is toppled.”

Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Supreme Leader’s military advisor, said on Sunday, “Sometimes it seems the country would be better off without an administration.”

The Trump Administration took its campaign farther on Tuesday, saying all countries and companies must reduce oil trade with Iran to “zero” by November.

The Administration has already pledged that it will punish any foreign firm with US links which trades and invests with Tehran from November 4.

Oil prices immediately rose up to 4%, with the US benchmark over $70 per barrel and the international benchmark topping $76 per barrel.

But there was some relief for the Rouhani Government, as its measures appeared to check the fall of the Iranian Rial. The posted rate for the currency recovered from its low mark of 90,000:1 on Monday to about 80,000:1 yesterday.

Facing a halving of the currency’s value since January and the 20% drop in 48 hours, the Government announced over the weekend that alternative rates would be established for importers, especially of medicine and essential goods.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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