The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday blamed the United States and other “foreigners” for “interference in Iran’s internal affairs” for supporting the recent protests over gasoline price increases.
Meanwhile, at a chemical weapons conference in The Hague, Iran’s representative denounced the U.S. as a threat to global security.
At a press conference in Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi pushed the Iranian regime’s line that America, Israel, and other foreign powers manipulated or encouraged last week’s widespread protests to destabilize his government.
Mousavi added that the U.S. wants more “riots and violent protests” in Iran.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman also took some shots at Iran’s rivals in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, accusing them of “trampling the principles of good neighborliness” and weakening “regional security” by bringing foreign forces into the Middle East and prolonging the war in Yemen, where Iran supports the insurgency which overthrew the internationally-recognized government in 2015.
“Countries that themselves have been breeding and spreading terrorism and extremism … cannot attribute their self-inflicted problems to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said of the Saudis and Emiratis.
The Iranian government sought to finish off its protest problem on Monday by holding a pro-government rally in Enghelab Square in Tehran. Mousavi insisted the rally proves Iran’s rulers “recognize the right to peaceful assembly,” but added “the situation is different for rioters.”
Iran’s Fars news agency described the Enghelab Square rally as a show of “support for the country’s Islamic establishment” and condemnation of “recent violent rioting that broke out under the guise of fuel price protests.”
Iran’s militarized police force announced on Monday that seven leaders of the “riots” have been “arrested and handed over to the judiciary officials.”
“Now the Law Enforcement Police and security forces are identifying the leaders and are making round-the-clock efforts to arrest and introduce the main culprits behind the chaos and destruction of people’s properties to the public opinion,” police Brig. Gen. Ayoub Soleimani announced on Tuesday.
Iranian officials from both the secular government and theocracy-controlled Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) made a number of statements to the effect that “rioters” suspected of working for foreign interests would be separated from citizens who were understandably upset by the dramatic increase in gasoline prices. The government promised relief programs to assuage the concerns of the legitimate protesters while vowing to hunt down subversives.
The IRGC carried on as if a “full-fledged war,” to quote one militia officer, had been plotted by the “Zionists, America, and Saudi Arabia” in a “coalition of evil” but was thwarted by swift security action. According to IRGC officials, some of their prisoners are cracking under interrogation and implicating foreign powers as their paymasters.
At a chemical weapons convention in The Hague on Monday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Gholam Hossein Dehqani absurdly claimed the United States is the only country in the world with a chemical stockpile and demanded the U.N. send its watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to confiscate America’s weapons.
Dehqani also took the opportunity to criticize U.S. sanctions against Iran as “economic terrorism” and called on the international community to counteract them. Iran has been systematically reneging on its commitments under the nuclear deal, formally known as the JCPOA, in a thus-far unsuccessful attempt to pressure European nations into offering it more economic relief.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that on the contrary, Iran can expect even more sanctions pain as punishment for its brutal crackdown on protesters last week – a bloodbath documented by thousands of online communications, photos, and videos collected by the United States after Tehran’s blackout of the Internet was lifted.
“We will continue to sanction Iranian officials who are responsible for these human rights abuses,” Pompeo vowed.
Pompeo saluted the “courageous people of Iran who refuse to stay silent about 40 years of abuse by the ruling regime” and promised, “The United States hears you, we support you, and we will continue to stand with you.”