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Khamenei Again Links Protests To Foreign Powers, Contradicting Rouhani

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures as he speaks, in Tehran, January 9, 2018
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures as he speaks, in Tehran, January 9, 2018

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has once again claimed on Tuesday that recent protests were organized and even financed from abroad and Iran has foiled attempts by its “enemies” to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

While Khamenei and hardliners, including the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), insist on foreigners being behind the protests, President Hassan Rouhani and some reformists maintain that this an “insult to Iranian people”.

Khamenei’s statements today on Twitter and via Iranian media sharpen the contrast between his position and Rouhani’s on the real causes of people’s sudden outburst, which started on December 28 and shook the country for more than a week.

Protests took place in more than 100 Iranian cities and towns, with much sharper tones than any other previous protest movement.

Demonstrators were said to be mainly between ages of 16-25, frustrated with lack of jobs, rising prices and lack of social and political freedoms. Their slogans turned increasingly more rejectionist, calling for wholesale change of the regime.

But the Supreme leader’s position ascribes the unrest mainly to foreign machinations.

"Once again, the nation tells the US, Britain, and those who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran from abroad that 'you've failed, and you will fail in the future, too.'" Khamenei tweeted.

He also insisted that a “dirty rich” country was involved; possibly an indirect reference to Saudi Arabia. "A triangle was at work", comprised of the U.S., Zionists and a "dirty rich" country, Khamenei said.

However, Khamenei acknowledged in his latest messages that people might have real grievances.

"These concerns must be addressed. We must listen, we must hear. We must provide answers within our means," Khamenei was quoted as saying, hinting that not only the government of President Hassan Rouhani, but his own clerical leadership must also respond.

With reporting by ISNA and Reuters