Adversaries Provoking Riots as Part of Proxy War

The US support for rioters was not unexpected and was a “natural” response to a sequence of its failures in the region
Ali ShamkhaniAli Shamkhani

A top security official said hostile countries are actively using social media to provoke violence in protests against rising prices across Iran, describing it as a new phase in their anti-Iran proxy war running for a couple of years.

Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani made the statement on Monday, referring to demonstrations in several cities in protest at economic hardships, which started in Mashhad on Thursday.

The rallies drew considerable attention after they turned political as some demonstrators in several cities chanted political slogans against top Iranian authorities and Iran's role in regional conflicts.  

There were also reports of violence in some demonstrations, which saw crowds confronting police and attacking public property.

Officials have confirmed more than a dozen people have been killed during the spate of violence in recent days. Shamkhani said Saudi Arabia, assisted by the US and UK, has launched social media campaigns to promote violence in protests.

The SNSC secretary said the campaigns are part of activities of a Saudi-funded organization run by western and Israeli experts, which uses members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization to propagate anti-Iran content via social media.

"The hashtags concerning the situation in Iran have been created in the US, UK and Saudi Arabia."

"Based on our analyses, probably 27% of the new [social media] hashtags [regarding Iran protests] are generated by Saudis," he told the Beirut-based TV station Al-Mayadeen.

  US Assesses Sanctions

The US has offered overt backing for the protests, with its top officials sparing no chance to condemn the arrests of some protestors.

Trump, who has revived the US policy of regime change toward Iran, has posted several tweets in support of protestors, claiming that "the good people of Iran want change".

Two of his top officials, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have openly talked about the US need for what has been characterized as "peaceful transition" of the Iranian government in recent months.

Washington is pondering sanctions against Iranian individuals who are allegedly responsible for "cracking down on Iranian protestors".

In an interview with Voice of America on Monday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran Andrew Peek also said Washington is planning to build an international coalition to support Iranian people's "legitimate rights to express discontent".

"We're considering a variety of options to hold those people [who commit violence against the protestors] accountable, including sanctions," he said.  

Shamkhani said the US support for rioters was not unexpected, describing it a "natural" response to a sequence of failures in the region.

"According to their own account, they spent trillions of dollars in the Middle East [to shape the region's future as they prefer]. But now you see the conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon," he said.

The top official said the organized intervention is aimed at hampering Iran's progress, a goal hostile powers would not be able to achieve.  

"What is happening in Iran will be over in a few days, and there is no reason to worry at all," he said.

Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced on Monday it has identified and arrested some elements who incited unrest in several cities across the country.

Iran's intelligence ministry released a statement saying "instigators" have been identified.

In a statement, the ministry added that operations were ongoing to arrest other agents and agitators.

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