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Khamenei Accuses Foreign Countries of Inciting Iranian Protests, Wags Finger at Washington

Khamenei Accuses Foreign Countries of Inciting Iranian Protests, Wags Finger at Washington

Wednesday, 10 January, 2018 - 08:45
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures as he speaks, Iran, January 9, 2018. via REUTERS

Lengthier than his first response this week concerning popular protests in Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asserted on Tuesday his holding the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and opposition parties responsible for orchestrating unrest in Iran.

Frustrated with a weak economy and an ongoing spending on foreign militias, demonstrators chanted "Death to Khamenei" during protests.

"Iran has foiled attempts staged by enemies abroad to turn legitimate protests into a coup," Khamenei said during a meeting with a national delegation from Qom at his residence in Pasteur, central Tehran.

In his lengthy speech, Khamenei first directed accusations abroad, then addressed anti-regime slogans echoed by protesters since demonstrations broke out late December.

Major cities witnessed protests such as Qom and Ahwaz, Hamdan and Kermanshah before them sweeping into Tabriz, Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan.

Khamenei labeled the protests as extra-ordinary, claiming to have direct details and information on the matter.

The Supreme Leader also described the protests as "playing with fire", illicit “demonization”, and a "counter-attack constructed by outside parties who support and fund the protests.

"Once again the nation tells the US, Britain and all those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad: You failed ... and you will fail in the future as well," he said.

At the same time, he said, "citizens have the right to express their legitimate concerns."

The protests were mainly triggered by economic conditions and then turned into politics, calling for overthrowing the regime.

Above that, Khamenei took pride in Iranian institutions having “quelled the unrest”, which spread to over 80 cities.

Hundreds of protestors have been jailed and at least 22 killed since last December.

"America does not dare to mention the name of negotiations with us, but a European country wants to negotiate with us about our regional presence," he hinted at France negotiations.

Khamenei said US President Donald Trump was trying to attract attention when he tweeted supporting the protesters.

He also said that it was a sign to the protesters that the US will present significant support.

Trump has praised what he called the courage of the Iranian demonstrators and said that the US would support them "at the appropriate time."

In clarifying his accusation against America, he said that "it has launched two chambers to manage anti-Iran operations."

Khamenei also exploited the controversial tell-all “Fire and Fury” to downplay Trump's character.

"This man sitting in the White House, who seems to be a very unstable man, has to realize that these extreme and troubling plays will not go unanswered," he said.

"The protests were not economic; they were protests that included other demands from the Iranians, especially freedoms and cultural and social problems," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The Iranian people "have a legitimate right to demand that we see and hear them and look into their demands," Rouhani added, suggesting that the real targets of the protests had been the powerful conservative clerics who oppose his plans to expand individual liberties and promote better relations with Western countries.

"It would be a misrepresentation and also an insult to the Iranian people to say they only had economic demands," Rouhani told the state-run Tasnim news agency. "People had economic, political, and social demands."

"We must simply accept the fact that the people have the last word," Rouhani said. "We [politicians] must accept that we are now sitting in a glass house."

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