White House 'Disturbed' by Reported Torture, Killings of Jailed Iranian Protesters


The remarks by Mohammad Javad Zarif at a security conference in Tehran echoed previous allegations by Iranian officials, who have blamed the violence that accompanied some of the protests on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, called the recent rallies "one of the most serious crises Iran has faced in the past 25 years".

Violent unrest fuelled by economic grievances erupted in dozens of Iranian cities between Dec 28 and Jan 1, leaving at least 21 people dead.

"When we see the people of Iran demanding regime change, this is something we here have been demonstrating for the last 39 years", Nikbakht said. Those demonstrations turned against the government more broadly, with some protesters calling for the deaths of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In 2009, demonstrations were mostly only seen in the important cities of Iran, whereas now, they are much more extensive, engulfing regions across the country.

Interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli has said about 42,000 people at most took part in the anti-government protests.

Furthermore, rather than turning the Iranian economy into a juggernaut or consolidating the regime's stability, the agreement deprived the regime of the argument that outside pressure - not chronic mismanagement, corruption and misallocation of resources - is the source of the miserable economic circumstances of most Iranians. They fear what they say may be used as an excuse by the Iranian government to retaliate against the 5,000 to 8,000 Jews still living there. "If they don't, expect protests to flare up again and who knows what that will lead to".

It's hard to tell right now who emerged stronger after the protests - Rouhani or his hard-line opponents. "We will officially discuss this matter among a few MPs and seek answers from the relevant authorities".

Since the US -led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran has expanded its presence across the Middle East as a counter to the American bases that dot the Arab Gulf countries surrounding it. But for the long run, it is hard to say.

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"Even if there are no more protests [right now], it will explode one day", Hadi said.

Hadi said he was frustrated at Rohani for abandoning social and economic promises: "He should take action, not just talk".

Will we urge the Iranians to rise up and overthrow their regime, as we did the Hungarians in 1956, which resulted in their massacre by Soviet tanks sent into Budapest? Citizens elect their president and lawmakers, but these representatives are all heavily vetted by appointed, powerful religious institutions.

Mohamed Mohsen Abul-Nour, Egyptian researcher in Iranian affairs, expressed his belief that the US support for the Iranian protestors gives them confidence and energy to keep them going.

Solving any of these issues would likely require some degree of cooperation between Iran's hardliners and moderates like Rouhani.

"They may decrease the price of eggs, thinking that they can fool people. It is impossible. The views of the young generation about life and the world is different than ours", he said.

He made the remarks during a speech commemorating protests against the Shah of Iran in 1978.