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Rouhani declares ‘victory’ after crushing Iran protests

Protesters block the roads during a protest against gasoline price hike in Tehran, Iran on 16 November 2019 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]
Protesters block the roads during a protest against gasoline price hike in Tehran, Iran on 20 November 2019 [Twitter]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared “victory” over domestic and foreign enemies yesterday, following the suppression of protests which swept through the country last week.

“The Iranian people have again succeeded in an historic test and shown they will not let enemies benefit from the situation, even though they might have complaints about the country’s management,” Rouhani stated, according to the UK-based news outlet Reuters.

The protests and demonstrations erupted last Friday due to the announcement that the price of fuel or gas would rise to 15,000 Iranian rials ($0.45) per litre up from 10,000 rials ($0.30) for the first 60 litres, and up to 30,000 rials ($0.90) for any extra fuel bought after that each month. They were also incited by Iran’s ailing economy which has been in crisis particularly since the re-imposition of US sanctions on the country.

The Iranian authorities’ brutality in dealing with the protests were of particular concern to many, and the human rights organisation Amnesty International reported that it had documented at least 106 deaths of protestors at the hands of the security forces. This has resulted in it being labelled the worst incident of public unrest in Iran since the “Green Revolution” in 2009, in which dozens were killed over the course of several months.

READ: Tehran’s options for dealing with the protests on its streets

Rouhani has blamed the protests on Iran’s enemies both domestically and internationally, in particularly the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as “thugs” wo are linked to exiles living abroad. The case is similar to how it blamed the protests in Iraq – which cited Iranian influence and interference as a primary cause – on the same elements.

The protests and Rouhani’s declaration of victory over Iran’s enemies come amid a time of increasingly tense relations between the country and the US, EU and its regional rivals. This has particularly been true in the Gulf region, following Iran’s seizing of European ships and oil tankers in the summer and its shooting down of a US drone in the area. More recently, Iran has been thought by many to be behind the September attack on a Saudi Aramco oil facility in Saudi Arabia’s south-west, which hit global oil supplies.

Much of the tension stems from the US’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the re-imposition of sanctions on the country, which has resulted in a spiral of increasingly tense relations between the Islamic Republic and the US and EU. In response, the US has deployed a further 3,000 of its troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia to monitor the perceived Iranian threat.

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