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Iran: Protests Complete First Week, Death Toll Reaches 25

Iran: Protests Complete First Week, Death Toll Reaches 25

Thursday, 4 January, 2018 - 13:45
Opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hold a protest outside the Iranian embassy in west London, Britain December 31, 2017. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Chief Maj-Gen Mohammed Ali Jaafari accused sites of a former official of inciting the latest protests in the country and announced the 2017 sedition defeated, as the protests in several cities entered their second week and the death toll reached 25.

Media outlets loyal to President Hasan Rouhani reported that the situation in Tehran and Isfahan is relatively calm amid intensified security measures. However, several videos circulated on social media showed the situation was not contained yet. According to reports, 90 cities participate in the protests with the death toll reaching 25, while official reports stated it was 22.

Jafari accused enemies and a former official of being behind the protests, in a comment analysts believe referred to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said "security preparedness and people's vigilance" had led to the defeat of "enemies" and the Guard only intervened in a "limited" way in three provinces.

He claimed there was a maximum of 1,500 people in each place and the number of troublemakers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide.

However, Amadnews website accused the Revolutionary Guard of attacking protesters in the city of Khomeyni Shahr on Tuesday.

Maj-Gen Jafari announced: "Today, we can say that this is the end of the 96 "sedition," referring to the current 1396 Hijri year. Since 2009, the Iranian government had been describing the protests as “sedition” when widespread demonstrations swept the country for eight months.

Speaking to economic newspaper “Jahane Sanat, Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Reza Nobakht admitted that Iranian government spends on war in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Last June, Lebanese Hezbollah Sec-Gen Hasan Nasrallah announced that Iran sends money and weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Kerman Governor General Alireza Razm-Hosseini stated that the secret services arrested a number of protesters believed to have relations with sites that led or called for protests.

Khomeyni Shahr representative said that at least one protester had been killed on Tuesday, while “Khaneh Mellat”, the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency, reported Mohammed Jawad Abtahi saying during the illegal protests, a person died after sustaining injuries.

Iranian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi announced that Telegram will be unblocked once some opposing accounts had been deleted. He added that the block on social media is temporary.

Expert on Iranian affairs and researcher Hasan Hashemian told Asharq al-Awsat that the protests reveal several major issues. The first refers to Hasan Rouhani’s vision of dealing with the protest which conflicts with the Revolutionary Guard’s vision of direct confrontation. However, Rouhani wants to deal with the issue through ministries and security forces.

The second issue Hashemian discussed was the Iranian regime’s failure to pin the blame on foreign intervention or extremists groups. He added that the regime asked the protesters to leave the streets and end their demonstrations calmly, however it doesn’t offer any solutions or economic policies to end the crisis.

Hashemian concluded by saying that despite all pressures, protesters succeeded in shedding light on their internal problems and sending out a message stating that they don’t care for the issues in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen. By this, Hashemian indicated, they managed to gain the sympathy of the international community and countries like US and Canada.

The researcher believes that if the protesters had access to the internet away from the surveillance of the Guard in the upcoming days, people would have witnessed the “beginning of the end” of the current regime.

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