Iran con­demns US sup­port for ‘ri­ot­ers’ as vi­o­lent petrol protests grip coun­try

The National - News - - NEWS - THE NA­TIONAL

Iran con­demned US sup­port for “ri­ot­ers” af­ter days of vi­o­lent protests in the Is­lamic repub­lic against a petrol price in­crease.

The for­eign min­istry said it was re­act­ing to US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo’s “ex­pres­sion of sup­port ... for a group of ri­ot­ers in some cities of Iran and con­demned such sup­port and in­ter­ven­tion­ist re­marks”.

Protests erupted in Iran on Fri­day, hours af­ter it was an­nounced the price of petrol would rise to 15,000 ri­als a litre (Dh1.30) for the first 60 litres and to 30,000 ri­als for any extra fuel bought af­ter that each month.

In a tweet on Satur­day, Mr Pom­peo said in re­sponse to the de­mon­stra­tions that “the United States is with you”.

On Sun­day, Iran’s for­eign min­istry spokesman Ab­bas Mousavi crit­i­cised Mr Pom­peo’s com­ments.

“The dig­ni­fied peo­ple of Iran know well that such hyp­o­crit­i­cal re­marks do not carry any hon­est sym­pa­thy,” Mr Mousavi said. “The acts of a ri­oter and sabo­teur group sup­ported by the likes of [Pom­peo] have no con­gruity with the con­duct of the wise Ira­nian peo­ple.”

The state­ment blasted Wash­ing­ton for its de­ci­sion to reim­pose sanc­tions on Iran af­ter the US with­drawal in May last year from the 2015 nu­clear deal.

“It’s cu­ri­ous that the sym­pa­this­ing is being done with the peo­ple who are un­der the pres­sure of Amer­ica’s eco­nomic ter­ror­ism,” Mr Mousavi said.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said on Sun­day that the coun­try could not al­low in­se­cu­rity af­ter two days of un­rest in which two peo­ple and led to the au­thor­i­ties ar­rest­ing dozens and re­strict­ing in­ter­net ac­cess.

Mr Rouhani de­fended the petrol price in­crease that trig­gered the protests – a pro­ject that the gov­ern­ment says will fi­nance so­cial wel­fare spend­ing amid a sharp eco­nomic down­turn.

The petrol plan is ex­pected to gen­er­ate 300 tril­lion ri­als a year, from which the gov­ern­ment says about 60 mil­lion needy peo­ple would re­ceive pay­ments.

“For this ... we should ei­ther in­crease taxes on the peo­ple, ex­port more oil or re­duce sub­si­dies and re­turn the rev­enues to the peo­ple in need,” Mr Rouhani said.

Iran’s supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei said “some lost their lives” in the vi­o­lence and blamed what he called hooli­gans. “All the cen­tres of the world’s wicked­ness against us cheered” the street protests, he said.

The lat­est death was a po­lice­man who was shot in a clash with ri­ot­ers in the west­ern city of Ker­man­shah.

Sev­eral peo­ple were also wounded and dozens ar­rested in the de­mon­stra­tions dur­ing which mo­torists blocked roads and others set fire to pub­lic property.

AFP

A petrol station in Es­lamshahr, near the cap­i­tal Tehran, that was set ablaze by pro­test­ers dur­ing a demon­stra­tion against a rise in fuel prices

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