Iran’s supreme leader has blamed his nation’s “enemies” for the recent unrest that has boiled over there.
“In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Khamenei’s remarks were his first regarding the protests that erupted across Iran last week, and he did not name any specific “enemies” during his comments.
The ayatollah added that he will ultimately address Iranians about the turmoil there “when the time is right.”
Ali Asghar Naserbakht, the deputy provincial governor in Tehran, on Tuesday said that police have arrested more than 450 demonstrators in Iran’s capital city during the last three days.
Reuters on Tuesday reported that protesters late Monday also attacked police stations elsewhere in Iran.
One member of Iran’s security forces was reported killed Monday, bringing the death toll linked to the chaos there to at least 14 people.
The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on Tuesday warned protesters that those arrested would face harsh punishment.
Musa Ghazanfarabadi added that detainees would soon be put on trial, while ringleaders would face serious charges.
The charges would include “moharebeh” – an Islamic term which means warring against God – which carries the death penalty.
Protests exploded in several major Iranian cities last Thursday, with the first wave focused on economic struggles and alleged corruption.
The demonstrations have since turned political, however, with many participants challenging the clerical leadership that has controlled Iran since a 1979 revolution there.
Khamenei is the ultimate authority in Iran’s political system, which consists of dual clerical and republican rule.
President Trump on Tuesday tweeted that “the people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime.”
“All of the money that [former] President [Barack] Obama gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets,’” he said.
“The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights,” Trump added. “The U.S. is watching!”
The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018