Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed unspecified “enemies of Iran” for the growing protests against his Islamic regime continuing Tuesday, implying protesters are receiving “money, weapons, politics and intelligence” from abroad.
Khamenei made these comments Tuesday at an event honoring the “martyrs” of the Iran-Iraq war, identifying those who fought in the war as necessary in combatting alleged ongoing hostilities from abroad. “What prevents the enemies and their hostile actions is the spirit of courage, self-sacrifice, and faith among the people,” Khamenei said, according to a translation on his official website.
He went on to say, referring to the protests, “In recent events, the enemies of Iran united by using different tools in their disposition, including money, weapons, politics and intelligence, in order to create problems for the Islamic system.”
“Regarding these events, I have more to say, which I will share with dear Iranian people at the right time,” he added:
In recent events, enemies of #Iran have allied & used the various means they possess, including money, weapons, politics &intelligence services, to trouble the Islamic Republic. The enemy is always looking for an opportunity & any crevice to infiltrate &strike the Iranian nation. pic.twitter.com/HIXtudRAue
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) January 2, 2018
Khamenei did not specify what “enemies” had organized to bring about the protests beginning last Thursday, which have reportedly resulted in at least 21 deaths as of press time. Iranian state media cite multiple other officials within the government, however, who make clear that the Islamic regime is accusing the United States and Saudi Arabia of working to exacerbate public dissatisfaction with the regime despite no evidence surfacing to support this theory.
Brigadier General Rasoul Sanayee Raad, Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) for Political Affairs, said on Tuesday:
Today, we are witnessing that the anti-revolutionaries, the monarchists, Monafeqin (hypocrites as MKO members are called in Iran), the US and al-Saud as well as a grouplet led by a fugitive clown are misusing the social and economic protests of our country’s people and have turned them into riots and sabotage acts.
The MKO, known in the west as the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), is a secularist Iranian dissident organization.
“The slogans chanted in the past two or three days by the rioters clearly showed that Manafeqin and the monarchists are behind this story,” he suggested, according to state-run Fars News.
Fars notes that President Hassan Rouhani has also blamed “the U.S. and the Zionist regime (Israel)” for the protests.
“They (the Saudis) have blatantly said that we will create problems in Tehran,” Rouhani added in remarks Tuesday.
Outside of insinuations from Iranian officials, there appears to be no evidence of foreign intervention triggering the widespread protests against the Islamic regime this week. An Arab intelligence official told Breitbart News on Monday that there are no signs of any external involvement in the protests yet, according to sources.
The official added that the protests do not yet pose a significant threat to the regime but could force Tehran to recalibrate its foreign policy, echoing a leaked Israeli assessment.
Iran is currently involved in wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and its terror proxy, Hezbollah, controls the Lebanese government and maintains a significant presence in Latin America. Protesters are demanding Iran invest in its citizens instead of funneling billions into foreign wars.
While no evidence suggests the United States is involved in the protests, President Donald Trump has vocally supported the peaceful expression of political opposition in Iran. On Tuesday, he blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for the violence in Iran, suggesting that Iranian officials are using money they received from the Iran nuclear deal to fund violence abroad instead of feeding their own people:
The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
On Monday, Trump said of the protests, “TIME FOR CHANGE!”:
Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Iran’s government has responded to the president’s remarks with vitriol.
“He (Trump) recently called Iranians ‘a terrorist nation’ and used a fake name for the Persian Gulf, stirring the Iranians’ national feelings and angering them around the world,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday, referring to President Trump’s calling the Persian Gulf “the Arabian Gulf.”
“Instead of wasting his time in posting futile and insulting tweets about other nations and countries, he had better address his domestic affairs and issues such as the daily killings of dozens of people in armed conflicts and shooting in various states of the US,” the spokesman argued. He did not provide details regarding where in the United States “dozens of people” were being killed in “armed conflicts.”
The situation in Iran appeared to be worsening on Tuesday morning. Reports suggest that 21 people, including police officers, have died in the uprisings so far and hundreds have been arrested. Iran’s Revolutionary Court issued a statement reminding citizens that protesting their government could lead to the death penalty. Protesters have targeted state institutions for destruction; some images show government vehicles on fire.