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Iran’s Reformists Warn against ‘Exporting’ Internal Crisis

Iran’s Reformists Warn against ‘Exporting’ Internal Crisis

Sunday, 7 January, 2018 - 12:00
People protest in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017, in this still image from a video obtained by Reuters.

A group of 16 prominent reformist figures issued a statement on Saturday rejecting claims that the widespread demonstrations in the country had been organized and instigated by foreigners, as lawmakers expressed their concerns for detained students.

The statement issued by the 16 reformist political activists, who are close to former President Moahmmed Khatami, denied any foreign involvement in recent protests, adding that focusing on foreign issues and ignoring the real reasons for public resentment led to the protests.

"Despite the fact that enemies of the country always try to take advantage of such events, we should know that any kind of foreign interference would not be possible without the existence of internal conditions," indicated the statement.

The officials added that the government claim of foreign involvement is "an insult" to Iranians and leads to "overlooking the real causes of the protests.

The statement came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Secretary General of the Iranian National Security Council and a number of senior officials accused foreign countries of inciting the public protests in Iran, an issue that was given great attention by media outlets of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the fundamentalist movement.

Reformist website Emtedad reported: "There is no doubt that the country's enemies are taking advantage of such events and supporting these protests, but we must bear in mind that foreign intervention at any level is not possible without paving the way for it internally.”

According to the reformist statement, the signatories condemned "US interference," especially that of US President Donald Trump, in the "internal affairs of Iran."

Although the statement emphasized the reason behind the protests is the economic crisis, it added that "without accepting such reforms, fundamental changes to resolve economic issues and reduce resentment cannot be achieved.”

Activists said there is "a lack of understanding and agreement on key issues and a lack of political and social harmony."

According to the statement, violence in protests continued due to lack of agreement on political issues, stressing that the spread of violence is a loss to all parties and would block the way to a political solutions to the crisis.

Over the past few days, reformists were divided and reformist newspapers strongly criticized the protests, in which demonstrators chanted "Death to Rouhani", less than six months after he took office for a second term.

Hours after the statement was published, Iranian media reported new statements by secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaee, who said on Saturday that the recent riots in Iran were planned during a meeting which was held in Erbil two months ago. The meeting was attended by brother-in-law of former Iraqi President Saddam Husein and foreign officials.

Meanwhile, night demonstrations continued on Saturday in Karaj, west Tehran, Isfahan and the southern port of Maashour, according to videos circulated by activists.

In a rare move, protesters burned gas, electric and water bills. According to photos, the bills had "Death to Khamenei!" written on them.

In related news, Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi said about 90 students were detained during the protests, 10 of whom were still not accounted for.

“It seems that the total number of detainees is around 90. The fate of ten students from universities in Tehran and some other cities is unknown, and we still do not know which body detained them,” news agency ILNA quoted Sadeghi as saying.

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