Iran’s Rouhani claims victory over unrest he blames on foreigners

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A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on December 31, 2017 shows Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani attending a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran. Criticism is different to violence, warns Iran’s Rouhani. / AFP PHOTO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY / HO / == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

Iranian President Rouhani on Wednesday claimed victory over unrest he blamed on Iran’s foreign enemies, according to state media, after protests over an increase in gasoline prices last week that have shaken the country.

“The Iranian people have again succeeded at an historic test and shown that they will not let enemies benefit from the situation, even though they might have complaints about the country’s management,” Rouhani said in remarks carried by the state broadcaster IRIB on its website.

“The spontaneous (pro-government) demonstrations which you see is the greatest sign of the power of the Iranian people,” Rouhani said.

Thousands of Iranians joined pro-government rallies in several cities on Wednesday, Iran’s state media reported, after Amnesty International said more than 100 protesters had been killed in the unrest.

State television showed rallies in the northern city of Rasht, in Gorgan in the northeast and in Shahryar south of the capital, Tehran, where a member of the security forces had been killed in the unrest.

State media carried pictures of Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s top security body, marching in Shahryar behind a banner that read “Death to America and Israel’s deception!”

Iran has blamed “thugs” linked to exiles and foreign enemies — the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia — for the protests. The unrest began on Friday after gasoline prices were raised at least 50% and rationing imposed. They quickly turned political.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday the protests had been a security matter, not a popular movement, and had been dealt with successfully.

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