Ayatollah Khamenei declares victory as Tehran claims protests slowing

Al-Monitor – “Let all friends and foes know that we pushed back the enemy in the recent security war,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared in a speech Nov. 19. Ayatollah Khamenei was referring to a wave of deadly demonstrations that has gripped the Islamic Republic since last Friday after an overnight announcement of higher gasoline prices and a contentious rationing scheme.

The protests, according to Ayatollah Khamenei, were not the “people’s job” but a “security” conspiracy now thwarted. The 80-year-old leader added that his country will experience the same victory in the “economic war” — a recurrent term in Iranian official discourse describing US sanctions that have drastically dwindled ordinary Iranians’ purchasing power.

An equally triumphant tone dominated Nov. 20 remarks by President Hassan Rouhani, who referred to some protesters as “a small group of enemy soldiers” who acted against “Iran’s national security.” Rouhani also hailed “spontaneous rallies” against the “thugs.” Iran’s hard-line media outlets and state TV gave extensive coverage to those rallies held in the cities of Tabriz, Zanjan, Hamedan and Shahr-e-Kord, where crowds gathered to “extinguish the flames ignited by thugs.” Traditionally, in the aftermath of past anti-government protests the Islamic Republic has mobilized supporters in such counter rallies, most notably in 2009, when a disputed presidential vote sparked mass demonstrations across the country.

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