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Protests have ended: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards declare

Sheetal Sukhija - Thursday 4th January, 2018

TEHRAN, Iran - On Wednesday, after six days of anti-government protests that left to a violent unrest and deaths of some demonstrators, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards declared that the ‘sedition’ in the country had been defeated. 

Referring to a wave of anti-government protests, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, 

Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari said that only 15,000 people had turned out at the height of the rallies.

In comments featured on the semiofficial Fars news agency, Jafari said that the main "troublemakers" have been arrested, and added, “Today, we can say it is the end of 'sedition 1396,' " referring to the year in the Iranian calendar.

He added, “With the help of God, their defeat is definite.”

Jafari offered no evidence of how the movement had been defeated beyond the arrests.

However, his comments appeared to be a warning against more rallies and came as tens of thousands of people attended pro-government rallies called to counter the unrest.

The protests began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad and has so far led to the deaths of 21 people.

The demonstrations that were initially staged against price rises and corruption, soon turned to wider anti-government sentiment - making it the largest protests since the disputed 2009 presidential election.

On Wednesday, Jafari said, "Today, we can say that this is the end of the 96 sedition," referring to the current year - 1396 - in the Persian calendar.

He added, “Security preparedness and people's vigilance" had led to the defeat of "enemies" and that the Guards had only intervened in a "limited" way in three provinces.

He said, "There were a maximum of 1,500 people in each place and the number of troublemakers did not exceed 15,000 people nationwide."

The general blamed anti-revolutionary agents, pro-monarchists and forces which he said had been "announced by [U.S.-ex Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton to create riot, anarchy, insecurity and intrigue in Iran.”

He added that the "enemies" had tried to pose "cultural, economic and security threats against Islamic Iran.”

Jafari’s comments came a day after the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed unspecified "enemies" for stirring the protests.

Analysts believed Khamenei was referring to the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia, since the U.S. government and the President Donald Trump had expressed support for the protesters, urging the Iranian government to end the crackdown on protesters.

The general meanwhile also blamed a "former official" for the protests, in a comment analysts believe referred to ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has, in recent weeks, been critical of government officials, in particular Judiciary Chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the State television broadcast some of the pro-government rallies live and some among those were events in the cities of Kermanshah, Ilam and Gorgan.

The footage showed some marchers carrying Iranian flags and images of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In Qom, marchers chanted "death to American mercenaries,” while elsewhere chants included "the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader" and "the seditionist rioters should be executed.”

While Iran's Revolutionary Guards declared the anti-government protests have ended, international news agencies reported fresh protests after nightfall on Wednesday.

Protests were reported in the city of Malayer in western Hamadan province, where protesters were heard chanting, "People are begging, the supreme leader is acting like God!"

Further, videos posted on social media showed protesters in Nowshahr in the north chanting "death to the dictator,” a phrase that has been used against Ayatollah Khamenei, according to Reuters news agency.

One video posted on social media showed a building burning in Gohardasht.

Another video emerged on Wednesday showing protesters tearing down images of the Ayatollah in Noor Abad, which is 360 km south-west of Tehran, although it was unclear when the footage was shot.

According to a statement by the Revolutionary Guards, three members of the security services were killed in Piranshahr, in West Azerbaijan province which borders Iraqi Kurdistan.

On Wednesday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump again tweeted in support of the protesters and said, “Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government. You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!"

A day earlier, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, doubled down on Trump's remarks and said that the U.S. was seeking emergency meetings with the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council.

Haley said, “The people of Iran are crying out for freedom. All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause."

However, Iran's UN mission responded by calling Haley's comments "nauseous crocodile tears.”

It added, "The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly condemned the meddlesome remarks made by Nikki Haley and other U.S. officials concerning the riots in the country. The remarks are all part of Washington's attempts to mask its political failures and those of its allies in the region and to take revenge on the brave people of Iran."

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