Iran blames US and Israel for uprising which has left 12 dead

Students are seen running for cover from tear gas at the University of Tehran as protests continue across Iran

Students are seen running for cover from tear gas at the University of Tehran as protests continue across Iran

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Senior Iranian figures have reacted to the ongoing violence in the country by blaming its fiercest enemies, suggesting the chaos is driven by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Nine people were killed overnight as rioting continued, taking the overall death toll to 12, while 450 people have been arrested over the three days of protests.

The protests are purportedly driven by concerns about rising living costs and economic stagnation, together with anger at the hard-line regime overseen by President Hassan Rouhani.

However Rouhani and his key aides appear to be pointing the finger of blame elsewhere.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote on his official website that "in recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic.

This stance was echoed by Second Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif, spokesman for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who said: "Overt and covert support of the US, Zionist regime [Israel] and the Saudis for the rioters and vandals helped the Iranian people differentiate between the peaceful protestors and the foreign-stimulated rioters."

The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's state news outlet which paraphrased much of Sharif's speech, said the General wanted to send a message that the White House and foreign intelligence agencies "cannot blemish the will of the Iranians to defend their Islamic Revolution."

National security chief Aladdin Boroujerdi echoed the refrain, saying: "A number of sworn enemies of Iran such as the US and the Zionist regime along with their regional puppets instigated such protests which resulted in damages to the public assets and urban infrastructure."

The protests currently show no sign of abating, although Iranian state media claims the situation is under control. The country's Revolutionary Court has also suggested that protesters could face the death penalty, according to The Independent.