The US will seek emergency sessions at the United Nations to express support for the Iranian protesters.
Iran's Leader Blames ‘Enemies’ for Deadly Unrest
Iran’s supreme leader accused the country’s enemies on Tuesday of being behind days of street unrest, as the death toll from anti-government demonstrations rose to 22, according to Reuters.
Riot police were out in force in several cities on the sixth day of protests, which spread to the northwestern city of Tabriz, according to social media posts, as security forces scrambled to contain the boldest challenge to Iran’s leadership since 2009.
More than 450 protesters have been arrested in the capital in the last three days, Tehran’s deputy provincial governor said, and hundreds of others were detained around the country. A judicial official said some could face the death penalty, the report said.
In the southwestern city of Ahvaz, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators.
“Police shot tear gas and later went around asking shops on two main streets to close and to completely clear the area,” a resident told Reuters by telephone.
Nine people were killed in Isfahan province during protests on Monday night, including two members of the security forces, state TV said. Six protesters were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahderijan in that province. The local governor said the protesters were armed.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Iran’s foes of fomenting the unrest, which began as protests about economic hardship and corruption but has grown into political rallies, some of which have criticized him by name.
“In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic,” he said, in his first reaction to the unrest.
He did not name the enemies but Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, said the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia were behind the riots.
“Saudis will receive Iran’s unexpected response and they know how serious it can be,” Shamkhani was quoted by Tasnim news as saying in an interview with Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV.
Khamenei said on his website that he would address the nation about the events “when the time is right”.
The United States rejected the suggestion that the protests were the work of foreign powers.
“We all know that’s complete nonsense,” said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
“The demonstrations are completely spontaneous. They are virtually in every city in Iran. This is the precise picture of a long-oppressed people rising up against their dictators.”
Washington will seek emergency sessions at the United Nations to express support for the protesters, Haley said, adding that the international community had failed to support reformist protests in 2009 that were crushed by Tehran.
“We must not make that mistake again,” she said.
The US State Department urged Tehran to restore access to any social media sites that had been restricted and urged Iranian security forces to exercise restraint.