Iran’s Week-Long Riots: What did foreign sides say, do?

Alwaght– The scattered riots in Iran in the past few days received massive coverage by the global media, and especially the Western media made the Iranian home developments their top headlines. Along with the wide-ranging coverage, the various countries’ officials and politicians reacted to the events. Some foreign sides voiced support to the rioters while others called for calm in Iran.

West-Israeli-Arab front seek destabilization Iran

The US Department of State in its initial reaction issued a statement, repeating what the President Donald Trump was accusing Iran of in the past few months. The statement, published on December 27, called Iran a state “whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.” The White House also called on the whole world to openly support the Iranian people whom Trump called a “terrorist nation” a couple of months ago after pushing for a travel ban which also included the Iranians.

Aside from the Department of State, the American president has been focusing on confronting Iran as a key strategy for his administration in West Asia region. In the past few days, the US leader has been actively tweeting on Iran.

“Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including the right to express themselves. The world is watching!”, a tweet of him on December 30 red.

Meanwhile, other American politicians, majorly Republican figures, walked in line with the Trump’s anti-Iranian stances. Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN, in an anti-Tehran move on Tuesday asked for the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on Iran. The call faced opposition from other UNSC members like Russia. But Khirat Omarov of Kazakhstan, whose country is currently leading the UNSC, replied to the US request for an emergency session, saying that looking in the current Iranian conditions is not on the agenda of the UN.

Others also rose to take political advantage of the unrest in the week-long riots in the Islamic Republic. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israeli regime on Tuesday reacted, saying that it is in the best interest of Tel Aviv to call the global attention to what is happening in Iran. Just before the PM, the Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz encouraged the protests in Iran to continue in a series of Iranian cities. “I can only wish success to the Iranian people in the struggle for freedom and democracy,” he said in an Army Radio interview.

Washington and Tel Aviv were not the only sides encouraging riots in Iran. Others came on board. Saudi Arabian leaders have tried to fuel a crisis in Iran. On January 2, Ali Shamkhani, the chief of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, in an interview with the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen news network unveiled new corners of what was going behind the scene during the protests. He openly pointed his finger at Saudi Arabia for its role in the unrest on the sly. Shamkhani told Al-Mayadeen that at this very significant juncture, Trump’s anti-Iranian hostility is not something unthinkable.

“The reasons behind this hostility are clear for us. In fact, the US has lost whatever it had planted in the West Asia. As they say, they spent $2 trillion in the region. But today look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and look at the US allies in the region. So, it is natural that they become hostile to us. The economic problems are not limited to Iran. Look at the world, which part of the world does not have economic troubles? To solve his country’s economic problems, Trump makes $400 billion from the West Asia. He spurs competition between various countries and loots their sources to fuel his own economy. As there are economic hardships in the US, there are in Iran, mainly coming out of the war, sanctions, and even partly our poor management. We were aware of these all. We knew that these issues will naturally spark some popular questions,” Shamkhani said, adding “part of the street protests signaled the popular discontentment with the economic conditions, and another part was related to the unhappiness with the behavior of the domestic media.”

Shamkhani said that he told the Supreme National Security Council’s members that the “war of hashtags” on the social media is a “proxy war” against the Islamic republic. “We investigated the origins of the hashtags that have newly been trending. Some 27 percent of the anti-Iranian hashtags originated from Saudi Arabia. They are not belonging to the Saudi people, it is the work of the Saudi regime. Mohammed bin Salman has funded the hashtag war, and Western and Israeli agents were behind the move.”

“The hashtags on the situation in Iran come from Britain, US, and Saudi Arabia. The three have founded an organization in Saudi Arabia and hired non-Saudis because the Saudis are professionally unable to run the (anti-Iranian) organization. The Mujahedeen Khalgh Organization (MKO) are, certainly, the infantry of this organization.”

He warned the kingdom that it will receive a strong response. “They will see the appropriate response from where they never expect,” Shamkhani said, maintaining that the “ruling family in Saudi Arabia knows well how dangerous our response could be.” “Saudi Arabia cannot meddle into the Iranian internal affairs and incite the conscious Iranians in a bid to cover up the damages it caused in Yemen,” he noted.

Iran’s friends come against interference

Unlike the American officials who have taken an interventionist path in dealing with the Iranian protests, the Russians have adopted a balanced stance, stood by side of the government in tackling the unrest, and opposed any foreign intervention into the Islamic Republic’s affairs. The Russian foreign ministry said any meddling that could destabilize Iran was unacceptable. The foreign ministry hoped that the protests will not lead to violence because this will only make things worse, Sputnik news agency quoted a statement issued by Moscow. The chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev referred to the slogans in the last week protests in some of the Iranian cities, saying that “external factors” encouraged the ignition of the unrest.

“New year’s wave of protests in Iran, of course, in the first place is a symptom of certain internal political processes in the country. Socio-economic factors also influence the events, but they aren’t the worst in the region and in comparison with previous years for Iran,” Kosachev was cited by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying.

Like Russia, the Turkish foreign ministry on 2 January reacted to the Iran incidents. The ministry stated Turkey’s concern about reports of demonstrations in Iran that started from 28 December and in which a number of people were killed and the public places were damaged. The statement further said: “We hope to see common understanding and calm returning to the country as soon as possible. Iran is a friend and brother state and Turkey sees it significant to save peace and social stability in Iran.”

The Turkish foreign ministry also highlighted the remarks made by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who recognized the right for peaceful protests that should be compliant with the law and should not destroy the public utilities. Ankara called on all sides to avoid violence and provocation, adding the foreign meddling and incitement should stop immediately to allow the calm return.

China was another party to seek calm for Iran instead of encouraging more violence. The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Xuanyou in a press conference told the reporters that China was following the Iranian developments closely. “We hope for Iran stability and continuation of its development.”

Iran’s significance regionally and internationally

The foreign reactions to the riots in Iran once again highlighted the importance of the Iranian place on the world stage’s developments. In recent decades, Iran has solidified its status as a regional power by pushing against the US-led Western destabilizing actions in the region. That is why the West, along with its subservient Arab allies, has been working hard to curb Iran’s increasing power gain. As the Arab uprisings, which ushered in the Islamic awakening era, erupted against the pro-Western dictators in 2011, Iran, in partnership with Russia, managed to add to its regional influence by the promotion of the resistance doctrine. Tehran to a high extent was successful in foiling the American-Israeli plan to redraw the map of the region, something infuriating the Washington and Tel Aviv leaders.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia after ascension to the throne of Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son Mohammed bin Salam in 2015 launched unceasing waves of anti-Iranian hostility with support from the West in a bid to make up from the kingdom’s regional losses. The top plan is to inflame chaos in Iran and thus divert the Islamic Republic’s focus from the regional developments. The Trump administration has set up roadblocks so far ahead of the full lifting of Iran sanctions in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. These are part of a complicated scenario against Iran. Bin Salman in an interview in May threatened to bring the battle to Iran.

The London-based Arab-language newspaper Rai al-Youm in an analysis of the recent unrest in Iran said that the Arab circles, especially the Persian Gulf Arab regimes, and also Arab social media have been overjoyed to see the anti-government protests in Iran. This comes while an Arab citizen is sentenced to 15 years in prison for posting a critical poem or call for reforms. Arab citizens lack rights to coming to streets for protests. Many human rights activists and religious figures are serving their sentences behind the scenes as the Persian Gulf Arab regimes disallow any publicity to such cases.

Rai al-Youm did not rule out the foreign sides’ role in the recent violent protests in Iran. After all, White House on Friday talked of a secret agreement recently reached with Tel Aviv to prevent Iran’s missile program development and also confrontation of Hezbollah in Lebanon. These confidential deals also existed last decades with the aim of destabilizing any anti-Israeli Arab country. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Algeria, and Yemen are the Arab victims of such Israeli-American projects.

Now it is made clear why there is a state of division in postures of various countries on Iran’s home developments. Europe, finding Iran geopolitically significant, one of the big oil exporters, a stable country in a region immersed in chaos, and a reliable party in the fight against terrorism like that of ISIS, has tried to adopt relatively balanced and independent stance in comparison to the US and Saudi Arabia’s pro-chaos and violence positions.