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Iran Points to Foreign Hand, Especially Saudis, Behind Protests, Washington Also To Blame

Jan. 2, 2018 (EIRNS)—In statements issued today, against the backdrop of continuing street protests, top Iranian leaders are pointing to the role of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in fomenting the protest that is now wracking several cities. The death toll thus far is 22.

President Hassan Rouhani has been careful to acknowledge that there are real economic problems in the country and vowed in an address today to the heads of varous parliamentary commissions that he would redouble efforts to resolve unemployment, inflation and air pollution. He particularly pointed out the Saudi role, however, warning that the Saudi Kingdom was angry with Iran’s achievements—especially the 2015 nuclear deal—its success in fighting terrorism and expanded ties with many nations.

Against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s tweets attacking the "brutal and corrupt" Iranian government, and warning that "the U.S. is watching," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, as well as Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani, among others, also also took aim at the Saudis, the Fars News agency reported.

Shamkhani charged that the Saudis have hired people to provoke Iranians to participate in street protests, by using social media. In an interview with the pan-Arabic Beirut-based al-Mayadeen news channel, he said that 27% of the hashtags which have been made belong to the Saudis, although backed by the U.S. and Britain. He warned that the Iranian terrorist group Mojahideen-e-Khalq (MEK/MKO), "are tools and infantry units" of the Saudi-led destabilization effort.

In a speech today addressing families of Iranian martyrs, Ayatollah Khamenei warned that Iran’s enemies "have been waiting for an opportunity ... to enter and deliver a blow to the Iranian nation," and have provided "money, weapons, policy and security organizations." Gen. Ramezan Sharif, head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said that "overt and covert support of the U.S., the Zionist regime and Saudia Arabia for the rioters and vandals" helped the Iranian people distinguish between "peaceful protesters" and the "foreign-stimulated rioters."

The foreign ministries of several nation—Russia, Syria and Turkey—have expressed concern over the situation in Iran, warning against any foreign intervention. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the situation in Iran is an "internal matter" and that any foreign intervention "is totally unacceptable."