Khamenei pledges response to “psychotic” Trump


Iran’s Supreme Leader has tried to reduce protests across the country to a US-Israeli-Saudi plot with “terrorists”, claiming that they took over the demonstrations about political and economic issues.

Speaking to an audience from Qom on Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei repeated the regime’s line that the three countries were working with the “murderous” Mojahedin-e Khalq, which has pursued the overthrow of the regime since 1980.

The plot has been hatched by Americans and Zionists. They have been working on it for several months, planning to begin from small towns and then move on towards the center. The cash comes from one of the filthy rich Persian Gulf littoral states.

Khamenei presented no evidence for his assertions of a plot behind “fireworks and vicious acts”. Instead, he insisted on “a correct point…separating people’s honest and rightful demands from the violent and vandalizing moves by a certain group”.

The Supreme Leader built on the declarations of the regime, notably the Revolutionary Guards and the police, that the protests have ended. He converted the regime’s counter-demonstrations of thousands into “vast manifestations arising from millions of Iranians” to declare, “Once again, the nation tells the US, Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that “you’ve failed, and you will fail in the future, too.”

He closed with a warning for Donald Trump: “This man who sits at the head of the White House — although, he seems to be a very unstable man — he must realize that these extreme and psychotic episodes won’t be left without a response.”

Iran has had local protests for months, as the country struggles for economic recovery despite implementation of the July 2015 nuclear agreement. They escalated from December 28, initially in Iran’s second city Mashhad and then across the country, as protesters added to their concerns over employment, prosperity, and cuts in services with criticism of the Rouhani Government and the Supreme Leader. Khamenei’s posters were torn down in some areas as demonstrators chanted, “Death to the Dictator”.

Officially, 21 people have been killed during the demonstrations. The regime has acknowledged more than 1,800 detentions at some point, with activists and an MP saying the total is far higher. At least one detainee has died in prison — Iranian officials claim it was a suicide — and a second death is being reported, as released prisoners speak of abuse.

Head of Armed Forces: “Enemy Plot” to Blame Regime for Deaths in Protests

The head of Iran’s armed forces has accused the US and its allies of a plot to blame the Iranian regime for the deaths during the protests.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Baqeri asserted that most deaths in the “riots” are suspicious because those killed have been shot from behind and the shootings have taken place in unknown areas. He said Iran’s security forces were unarmed.

Baqeri’s explanation contradicts earlier regime claims, for example, that slain demonstrators were shot when they tried to break into regime buildings. However, a similar line was taken in 2009, for example, trying to pin the high-profile killing of Neda Agha Soltani on a provocateur and to absolve regime personnnel.

Bagheri derided American criticism of violence against protesters: “Certainly, such stances by such a country are quite ridiculous given its record of barbarism, and the whole world knows this.”

Judiciary Suspends Executions of 5,000 Convicted of Drug Offenses

Iran’s judiciary, acting on legislation, has suspended the executions of 5,000 prisoners convicted of drug offenses.

All judges are to refrain from imposing any more capital sentences and to review the cases of those who were condemned. Sentences are expected to be reduced to prison terms between 25 and 30 years.

Parliament’s legislation, passed last summer, says the death penalty is only to be imposed in the cases of more than two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine. Previously, transportation and distribution of thirty grams resulted in the death sentence.

Iran has been regularly criticized by the UN and by human rights groups over its high level of executions, including drug cases. The Rouhani Government moved last year to ease the punishments.

Germany Considers Proseuction of Top Iranian Cleric Shahroudi

Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office is considering whether to bring charges against one of Iran’s top clerics, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi.

Shahroudi is in Germany receiving medical treatment at a neurological center in Hanover. He has been mentioned both as a successor to the Supreme Leader and to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading Shia cleric in Iraq.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday that a complaint had been filed by a former German legislator, the Green Party’s Volker Beck, accusing the cleric of committing “crimes against humanity” as he oversawing hundreds of executions as Chief Justice of Iran from 1999 to 2009.

Last week, about 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Hanover hospital to protest the estimated 2,000 executions and to express solidarity with protests inside Iran.

A coalition of Iranian human rights NGOs has supported the complaint by providing “compelling evidence” to German authorities of Shahroudi’s responsibilty in the executions and in the detentions of activists who were imprisoned and subjected to “torture, rape, and murder”.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Rainer Breul said on Sunday that Shahroudi had sought treatment in Germany for a “serious illness” and that his request was granted after “credible health reasons” were given.

The cleric is currently chair of Iran’s Expediency Council.

Regime Opens Investigation into Death of Ex-President Rafsanjani

The Iranian regime has opened an investigation into the death of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani in January 2017, according to members of his family.

Rafsanjani’s daughter Faezeh Hashemi said last month that an examination by the Supreme National Security Council had determined that the level of radioactivity in her father’s body was 10 times beyond the permissible limit.

The former president’s son Yaser Hashemi said this week that President Hassan Rouhani, a protégé of Rafsanjani, had ordered the SNSC to open the investigation.

A family member said, “The consensus within the family is that the he was killed, or at least did not die of natural causes.”

The official account of Rafsanjani’s death blamed cardiac arrest. T

Rafsanjani, who was President from 1989 to 1997, was ostracized by the regime after he gave a Tehran Friday Prayer in July 2009 which defended the right to protest after the disputed Presidential election. Despite pressure on his family, including the arrests of his children, he continued to maintain a high profile with careful criticism of Iran’s leaders; however, he was blocked in 2013 by the Guardian Council from running for the Presidency, with Rouhani approved as a consolation candidate and winning a surprise first-round victory.