1/7/2018 3:45 a.m. — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sunday the country’s people and security forces had defeated unrest fomented by foreign enemies, as parliament and key security officials met to discuss the boldest challenge to the clerical establishment since 2009.
“Iran’s revolutionary people along with tens of thousands of Basij forces, police and the Intelligence Ministry have broken down the chain (of unrest) created … by the United States, Britain, the Zionist regime (Israel), Saudi Arabia, the hypocrites (Mujahideen) and monarchists,” the Guard said in a statement on its Sepahnews website.
Meanwhile, thousands of government supporters staged rallies for a fifth day in a backlash against the biggest anti-government protests since widespread unrest in 2009 over alleged election fraud.
State television showed live pictures of rallies in several cities, including central Shahr-e Kord where hundreds, many clutching umbrellas, had gathered despite heavy snowfall.
Residents contacted by Reuters in various cities have said the protests had subsided in recent days, after the government intensified a crackdown by dispatching Revolutionary Guard forces to several provinces.
Late Saturday, videos on social media showed a heavy police presence in cities, including Khorramabad in southwestern Iran where Wednesday evening social media posts showed protesters throwing stones at riot police.
The protests have drawn largely young people and workers as well as members of the educated middle-class that formed the backbone of a pro-reform revolt almost a decade ago.
A police spokesman said most of those arrested were “duped” into joining the unrest and had been freed on bail, the state news agency IRNA reported. “But, the leaders of the unrest are held by the judiciary in prison.”
Tehran University Vice-President Majid Sarsangi said the university had set up a committee to track the fate of students arrested during the unrest.
Separately, a member of parliament said about 90 students were detained, 10 of whom were still not accounted for.
“It seems that the total number of detainees is around 90. Ten students from universities in Tehran and some other cities are in an uncertain position, and … it is still unknown which body has detained them,” the labor news agency ILNA quoted reformist politician Mahmoud Sadeghi as saying.
Videos that appeared on social media in recent days showed relatives of detainees gathering outside prisons seeking information about the fate of their loved ones.
1/7/2018 3:17 a.m. — Demonstrators gathered Saturday outside the White House, in a show of support for anti-government protests taking place in Iran. VOA Farsi Instagram posted several photos.
The gathering, at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, was organized by the Organization of the Iranian American Communities. It was held in solidarity with those demonstrating in Iran.
1/7/2018 2:26 a.m. — Iran’s parliament is set to hold a special session as soon as Sunday to discuss the anti-government protests that began Dec. 28 and continued through this week.
Iran’s ISNA news agency reported that Iran’s interior minister, head of intelligence and security council chief are all expected to attend. On the agenda are discussions of the root cause of the protests, as well as legal help for protesters jailed during the demonstrations.
The session was called by a group of reformist lawmakers, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In a letter, those lawmakers called for legal assistance for the detained and condemned any outside “interference” in the protests, calling out the United States in particular.
1/7/2018 12:20 a.m. — Much of the Middle East media is silent on the widespread protests in Iran.
1/7/2018 12:06 a.m. — To understand why Iranians are protesting, consider the town of Doroud.
Doroud should be a prosperous place — nestled in a valley at the junction of two rivers in the Zagros Mountains, it’s in an area rich in metals to be mined and stone to be quarried. Last year, a military factory on the outskirts of town unveiled production of an advanced model of tanks.
Yet local officials have been pleading for months for the government to rescue its stagnant economy. Unemployment is around 30 percent, far above the official national rate of more than 12 percent. Young people graduate and find no work. The local steel and cement factories stopped production long ago, and their workers haven’t been paid for months. The military factory’s employees are mainly outsiders who live on its grounds, separate from the local economy.
“Unemployment is on an upward path,” Majid Kiyanpour, the local parliament representative for the town of 170,000, told Iranian media in August. “Unfortunately, the state is not paying attention.”
SUNDAY EVENTS 1/7/2018
*Some information for this report provided by AP.
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