1258 GMT March 30, 2020
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei lauded the Iranian nation’s tremendous victory in thwarting a “dangerous” enemy plot following days of protests over fuel price hike.
Ayatollah Khamenei was addressing members and commanders of Iran’s volunteer Basij force in Tehran on Wednesday on the occasion of the Basij Week. The week marks the anniversary of the Basij force’s creation after the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution under the direction of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, according to Press TV.
The Leader noted the enemies had hatched a “profound, extensive, and very dangerous” plot against the country at a great cost, and were seeking to enact the conspiracy when it comes to the crunch through acts of destruction, homicide, and mischief.
“They thought that the issue of gasoline was the opportunity they had in mind, and [therefore] brought their legion into the scene,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “However, the Iranian nation destroyed the enemy’s movement in a glorious display [of national presence].”
Using a recent hike in the price of gasoline as a pretext, riotous elements began staging acts of violence across the country, setting fire to, looting, or destroying various public facilities, including banks, gas stations, and department stores.
Shortly after the price hike was announced, Ayatollah Khamenei warned that the protests against the decision could be used by agitators, who were being provoked and equipped by the country’s enemies. The note of caution prompted sweeping pro-government rallies across the country.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Iran’s elite defense force, has rounded up over 100 of the protests ringleaders.
Last Friday, Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaeili said, among the arrestees, there were some tied to the anti-Iran and US-backed terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), royalists as well as separatists, who were nabbed in the country’s border provinces, and members of organized groups trained toward staging acts of sabotage.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the show of national will in the face of the adversarial drive was to be valued higher than the measures taken by Basij, IRGC, and the Law Enforcement Force to contain the violence.
The Leader described the great national movement against the rioters, which began in the northwestern cities of Zanjan and Tabriz, and even reached some rural areas before culminating in Tehran, as “a slap” to the global arrogance and Zionism, forcing them into retreat.
The Leader said the hegemonic system and the US have expended all in their power since the Islamic Revolution to confront Iran’s Islamic establishment.
The establishment, however, has grown in power and strength every day and come to flaunt these qualities before the enemy’s eyes, Ayatollah Khamenei added.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also thanked the people of East Azarbaijan for their support for the Islamic Revolution, the Leadership and the establishment, saying that the Iranian people have always been at the forefront of ensuring security and have stood up against the country’s ill-wishers, according to the official presidential website.
President Rouhani, who had traveled to the northwestern province to inaugurate a railway project on Wednesday, stressed that the country belongs to the people and the youth.
The Iranian president said that the Islamic Republic’s enemies thought that the unrest would last for months, but the presence of the people in the streets in support of the establishment once again showed the national strength and disappointed the enemies.
Last Friday, the government raised Iran’s extremely cheap gasoline prices in order to moderate the national consumption rate, which stands at 110 million liters per day, 40 million liters above the maximum domestic requirement.
The price reform, required by Iranian legislature and essential as US-imposed sanctions seek to deplete Iran's budgetary resources, had been long delayed due to concerns regarding the move's probable backlash.
The measure's adoption prompted initially peaceful protests, but riotous elements, abusing the situation, quickly entered the scene, destroying public property, setting ablaze banks and gas stations among other facilities, and opening fire on people and security forces.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on Wednesday about 731 banks and 140 government sites were torched in the unrest which led to the death of dozens of people in the country.
More than 50 bases used by security forces were also attacked and approximately 70 gas stations were also burned, he said, in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency, without specifying where the attacks took place.