Economy

Iran deploys Revolutionary Guards to quash anti-government 'sedition' as protests continue

Iran deploys Revolutionary Guards to quash anti-government 'sedition' as protests continue

On Dec 27, thousands of Iranians took part in mass rallies in support of the government in the cities of Abadan, Ahwaz, Kermanshah, Gorgan and Khorramabad.

The 78-year-old Mr Khamenei had earlier accused Iran's adversaries of fuelling the protests. They handed out flyers to passing motorists and pedestrians, and carried signs stating that Iranians were taking to the streets not only to demand jobs and a lower cost of living, but to demand freedom of expression, the liberation of political prisoners, and to oppose the obligatory wearing of the hijab.

The letter was released after Trump pledged to help Iranians "take back" their government and the White House weighed sanctions against those involved in the crackdown against demonstrators.

Meanwhile, a Russian deputy foreign minister said the upcoming UN Security Council session on Iran is an attempt by the United States to violate Iran's sovereignty.

The protests began on December 28, sparked by Iran's flagging economy and a rise in food prices, before morphing over the following days into calls for the downfall of Iran's theocratic government. The fact that protests have erupted in smaller cities - which often tend to be more conservative - that were relatively untouched by the Green Movement in 2009 (at the time the regime tried to discredit those rallies as the sole preserve of an out of touch "westernised" elite in Tehran) has intrigued many.

IS claimed responsibility for a rare attack in Tehran in June that killed 17 people at the parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. While many Iranians have denounced the violence that has accompanied some demonstrations, they echo the protesters' frustration over the weak economy and official corruption.

The four independent experts appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council said in a joint statement issued on Friday in Geneva that authorities should "exercise restraint".

On Wednesday, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, said the biggest gathering included some 1,500 protesters.

They said they are also very concerned about reported shutdowns of social media services such as Instagram and messaging services like Telegram, arguing that "communication blackouts constitute a serious violation of fundamental rights".

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One of the flyers explained: "The Iranian people need our solidarity, as they have multiple enemies".

The plot focused on fomenting dissent from the countryside to shake Tehran, Montazeri said.

State television broadcast live pictures of pro-government rallies on Thursday, including Ghaemshahr in northern Iran and Mashhad in the northeast, and Shahin Shahr in central Iran.

Macron also said he would only visit Iran if there was a return to calm and respect for freedoms.

Khatami says that "the nation does not support a social network that has its key in the hands of the United States". It marked the third day of such demonstrations. Large pro-government rallies have been held in response, and officials have blamed the anti-government unrest on foreign meddling.

But it's not clear what influence foreign statements of support have in swaying anyone on the ground in Iran.

"The protests were entirely spontaneously generated", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

At least 21 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding the protests, which began last week over rising food prices and Iran's flagging economy before spreading to cities across almost all of Iran's provinces.


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