A commander of Revolutionary Guards’ Basij paramilitary on Thursday described the recent protests in Iran as a "full-scale world war" against the Islamic Republic. Speaking at a memorial ceremony in Hamadan on Friday Brigadier General Salar Abnoush said ending the protests was a "miracle".
"Strange coordinations were made in the recent sedition. They were only waiting for one spark to destroy the country, " the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported him as saying. Abnoush alleged that Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia had been involved in the sedition and admitted that the protests had "suddenly engulfed the entire country".
Abnoush also claimed that "the seditionists who intended to massacre half of the Iranians" had very advanced equipment. "They set fire [to buildings] and plundered them," he said.
Tripling of the price of gasoline on November 15 sparked protests in more than 100 Iranian cities and towns. Protesters in many areas chanted slogans against the regime and set fire to billboards with Khamenei's pictures.
As in past instances of popular protests, Iranian officials immediately blamed foreign forces for inciting unrest and claimed to have uncovered foreign agents. So far, no evidence has been presented to back-up these claims, but it cannot be ruled out that some protesters will make forced confessions on state-controlled media.
The various layers of Islamic Republic's security forces used lethal force against protesters, using live ammunition. More than 100 Iranians were killed in the protests and thousands have been arrested. Banks, gas stations, government offices and other public and private buildings were set on fire in many places and 80 chain stores and supermarkets were plundered.
The regime alleges that protesters are responsible for the destruction and looting but many protesters refute these allegations and say the IRGC and other agents of the regime committed these actions to discredit the protesters and justify the violence against them.
The IRGC commander also claimed that Khamenei supported the move to increase the price of gasoline "to muddle the calculations of the seditionists" and added: "There are some who are upset by the Supreme Leader's defense of the increase in gasoline prices…. without his expedient measures the wishes of the seditionists would be fulfilled because according to their calculations in order to defend the underprivileged classes of the society the Supreme Leader would oppose the move [to increase the price of gasoline]," ISNA reported him as saying.
Brigadier General Abnoush told the participants in the memorial service that the authorities delayed cutting off of the Internet but "it was still useful in muddling the organization of these complex groups."
Iranians' access to the world Internet has been cut off since Saturday evening. The access rate had dropped to about 5% but on Thursday the media reported that limited access has been re-established in some parts of the country. According to the latest update by NetBlocks connectivity to the world has gone up slightly and reached 15%, 136 hours after Iran implemented a near total Internet shutdown on November 16.