Protests

Iran's 'conspiracy' claims insult its people: analysts

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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Iranian demonstrators set ablaze two motorcycles that belong to security forces. [Photo via Fars News]

Iranian leaders are insulting the intelligence of the Iranian people by issuing statements in which they insist the ongoing wave of street protests is an "enemy conspiracy", analysts told Al-Mashareq.

There is no truth in this, they said, which the Iranian regime well knows.

Protests erupted across the country on November 15th after the Iranian regime abruptly hiked fuel prices.

In the ensuing crackdown, Iranian authorities are believed to have killed more than 1,000 people, the US said last week, with Amnesty International reporting that at least 208 people have died in the protests.

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IRGC officers take part in a pro-government counter-protest organised by the Iranian regime. [Photo via Fars News]

President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed the protests as an "enemy conspiracy".

Rouhani's statement and the response of other Iranian leaders to the protests displays the Iranian regime's contemptuous dismissal of the rights and minds of the Iranian people, Iranian affairs researcher Fathi al-Sayed told Al-Mashareq.

This attitude is "belittling", said al-Sayed, who is affiliated with Al-Sharq Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies, noting that the ruling regime is fully responsible for creating the conditions that led to the protests.

The Iranian regime has given precedence to its expansionist policies at the expense of the people, who are suffering as a consequence, he said, even as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) continues to finance its affiliates.

These groups serve the interests of the IRGC at the expense of the people, he said.

"There is appalling incoming information about the use of excessive force and live bullets to deter demonstrators," he said.

The Iranian regime's attempts to blame the popular uprising on foreign interference undermines the intelligence of the Iranian people and the international community, political analyst Ali Narimani told Al-Mashareq.

The Iranian people are contending with difficult social and economic conditions, and they know "full well" who took to the streets and why, he said.

"The vast majority of the demonstrators are young people, who are the hardest hit by the deteriorating conditions," Narimani added.

IRGC promotes 'conspiracy theory'

The uprising in Iran is ongoing, though at a lower intensity than when it erupted, due to the authorities' crackdown on protestors, Iranian dissident and Tehran native Hossein Shayan told Al-Mashareq.

"The number of those detained across all provinces is in the hundreds, and detention centres and prisons are full of peaceful dissidents," he said.

Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise.

The UN said Friday that at least 7,000 people have reportedly been arrested in Iran and called for the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained.

Rouhani's recent statements can be perceived as "a license to kill the Iranian people who reject their current reality", Shayan said.

These statements give the security forces and the IRGC-aligned Basij paramilitary forces justification for the use of excessive force, he said, under the pretext that the protests threaten the stability of the Islamic Republic.

"This tactic has been used by the IRGC since it seized power to quash political and popular dissent," he said.

It has been used during the protests in Iraq, where IRGC-linked groups have been suppressing demonstrations, he said, and in Lebanon, where the same "foreign conspiracy" rhetoric is being used to justify Hizbullah's actions.

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