Iranians entered the fourth day of protests on Wednesday after the rial hit a record low of 90,000 rials to one U.S. dollar on Sunday.
Chants calling for the death of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly filled Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, the center of commerce in the bustling city, throughout the week.
Khamenei has battled cancer and — despite several health scares, including rumors that he had passed — the 78-year-old Shi’ite leader appears to be in relatively good condition and stable health.
The bazaar’s shopkeepers shut down their stores out of fear, according to local reports. An Iranian man named Kaveh told Breitbart News that some of his friends who sell gold in the Grand Bazaar not only closed their shops, but also removed the gold from their stores out of fear of being looted.
On Wednesday, Radio Farda reported that Iran’s Secretary-general of the Grand Bazaar’s trade association told reporters that “a large part of the bazaar is almost open.”
The widespread protests are a response to the rial sinking to a record low. The government has largely disregarded this. The Jerusalem Post reported that Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused foreign media, including Reuters, of spreading “false” stories about the Iranian economy after the protesters honed in on Iran’s deep involvement in Syria.
Over 40 percent of Iran’s population is unemployed. As Iranians struggle to put food on the table, Iran’s regime continues to spend billions of dollars in financial aid on Palestinian terror groups Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shiite militias in Iraq, and in a civilian casualties-laden civil war in Syria where they are tightening the reigns in their support for support for President Bashar al-Assad.
Also on Sunday, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif boasted, “We are all in one ship in Iran: principalists, reformists, non-partisans and opponents of the Islamic Republic.”
Zarif has used similar rhetoric in the past to provide the illusion of conformity among his fellow countrymen and women. In October, several hours after the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, Zarif similarly claimed, “Iranians–boys, girls, men, women–are ALL IRGC.”
On Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States for waging an “economic war” against Iran.
In a Wednesday statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated that “it should surprise no one that protests continue in Iran. The Iranian people are demanding their leaders share the country’s wealth and respond to their legitimate needs.” Pompeo noted that instead of serving the basic needs of everyday Iranians, “the Iranian government is squandering its citizens’ resources, whether its adventurism in Syria, its support for Hizbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis, or its ambitions for wastefully expanding its nuclear program, it will only add to the suffering of the people of Iran.”