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Rouhani Says Protests In Iran Encouraged U.S. Exit From Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a press conference in Tehran on Monday, October 14, 2019.

The Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani has linked the widespread anti-regime protests in late 2017, early 2018, to Washington's decision to drop the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, in May 2018.

Speaking at a news conference, Rouhani said on Monday, October 14, that since December 2017, Iran has found itself in a "new situation," but it has succeeded in leaving behind critical or somewhat critical conditions.

Iran's new situation is the result of events that were initially triggered inside and then outside the country, Rouhani maintained.

He was explicitly referring to the anti-Islamic Republic protests that began in late December 2017 in Iran's second-largest city, Mashhad, and soon

.The uprising started under the banner of "No to Hiking Prices" in Mashhad but later turned into anti-Islamic establishment demonstrations.

Rouhani's allies accused Mashhad's hardline Friday Prayer Imam, Ahmad Alam ol-Hoda, and his son-in-law, mid-ranking clergy, Ebrahim Raeisi, who is currently running the Islamic Republic judiciary.

President Rouhani's senior advisor, Hossameddin Ashena, explicitly blamed the two as the masterminds of the initial uprising that kicked off in Mashhad aimed to tarnish the image of the Rouhani administration.

However, the uprising was soon directly targeting the whole Islamic establishment.

Furthermore, for the first time in almost four decades, the protesters loudly chanted slogans in support of the Pahlavi dynasty, calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

"Rest in Peace, Reza Shah!" reverberated in the streets as a homage to the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty.

IRAN -- Dec. 30, 2017 file photo taken by an onlooker showing protest at Tehran University
IRAN -- Dec. 30, 2017 file photo taken by an onlooker showing protest at Tehran University

The enraged demonstrators also reiterated that they were fed up with the two conservative and reformist camps constituting the establishment in the Islamic Republic, chanting, "Your days are over!"

At his news conference on Monday, Rouhani admitted he had not expected the demonstrations, adding that Washington's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA was one of the results of the widespread protests.

"A number of unwise individuals set the scene in a way that anti-Islamic Revolution elements benefited from it later," Rouhani asserted, adding that the "unexpected" uprising encouraged the U.S. President Donald Trump to drop the JCPOA, and impose sanctions on Tehran. This could have been an indirect jab at Mashhad’s ultraconservative duo.

Nonetheless, Rouhani claimed that Washington's sanctions failed to "defeat" the Islamic Republic.

"Today, we can strongly announce that the plots of the United States, the Global Imperialism, Zionism and regional reactionaries to harm the Islamic Republic have ended, and they all admit that we have handled the situation," Rouhani said, boastfully adding, "We have handled a somewhat critical situation with our patience, wisdom and steadfastness and our enemies admit it."

Rouhani went even further by claiming, the Islamic Republic is in a much stronger position vis-à-vis political and international issues. "At the United Nations, it was evident to us that all major countries around the world believed that Iran has become stronger compared to last year", he said.

In reality, while Iran has shown its military muscle in the region, its Achilles' heel is its economy, which is in a dire situation because of mismanagement, corruption and U.S. sanctions.

Meanwhile, Rouhani repeated that during his recent visit to New York, he was prepared to attend a session along with the heads of the 5+1 countries (five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.A., as well as with Germany.

He did not elaborate on why the session was not held.