Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday blamed recent protests in Iran on foreign “enemies” seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic government.
In addition, he said, enemies were waging “psychological warfare” against Iran by accusing it of piracy for seizing two Greek ships after the United States confiscated Iranian oil from a tanker.
“Today, the most important hope of the enemies to deal a blow to the country rests on the popular protests,” Khamenei said, referring to week-long protests over a building collapse in the south. western Iran last month that killed 37 people.
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“But the enemy’s calculation is as wrong as many other precedents,” he said in a televised speech on the 33rd anniversary of the death of the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Ayatollah. Ruhollah Khomeini.
Authorities have blamed the collapse of the 10-story residential and commercial building in Abadan on local corruption and lax security and say 13 people, including mayors and other officials, have so far been arrested for construction violations.
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Protesters, however, say the disaster is due to government neglect and entrenched corruption and have chanted slogans against officials including Khamenei.
Iranian residents have reported interrupted internet services, an apparent attempt to shut down the use of social media to hold rallies and broadcast videos. Authorities have warned people to only follow official media and avoid social media “rumors”.
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The United States, which has imposed tough sanctions on Iran, confiscated the cargo of Iranian oil on the Iranian-flagged Pegas that Greece seized off its coast in April. Tehran retaliated by seizing two Greek ships on May 27.
But, Khamenei said, global media accuse Iran of piracy. “Who is the pirate here?” You stole our oil. We took it back from you. Recovering stolen property is not theft.”
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