Iran v US: Tehran blames violent protests on Trump ‘conspiracy’ as tensions soar

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the bizarre comment while addressing the Revolutionary Guard’s Basij force, which was responsible for attempting to quell demonstrations by angry protesters in Iran. He branded the violent clashes as being orchestrated by “global arrogance” – a term he often uses to refer to the US. Mr Khamenei added that Iran extinguished “a very dangerous deep conspiracy that cost so much money and effort”.

He then described the US as using the fuel hikes as an “opportunity” to bring their “troops” to the field.

He added the “move was destroyed by the people”.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also blamed the US for the protests.

He called protesters “mercenaries” and “hooligans” in a shocking speech and even alleged the US sent cash over two years to spark the revolt.

He said: “We achieved a great national victory against superpowers.

“This great epic shows the power of our people.”

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Iran’s Intelligence Ministry stating eight people had been arrested over the protests.

The Ministry claimed they had received CIA training abroad to be “citizen reporters”.

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It added: “Six of these people were arrested while attending riots and executing intelligence services’ orders.”

Demonstrations have seen around 200,000 people take part resulting in damaged banks, police stations, petrol stations and ambulances.

Protesters have been killed in Iraq after storming the Iranian consulate and burning the building to the ground.

It comes as Iraqi security forces shot dead 22 people in the massacre in the southern city of Nassiriya, according to medical sources.

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Violence escalated after weeks of protests against what some claim a corrupt Baghdad propped up by Iran.

Officials imposed a curfew in the nearby city of Najaf where the consulate was destroyed in what is being seen as the strongest showing of aggression against Iran by Iraqi demonstrators.

The inability of Iraq’s government and political class to deal with the unest and answer protesters’ demands has fuelled public anger.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has promised electoral and anti-corruption reform but barely begun delivering while security forces have shot dead hundreds of mostly peaceful demonstrators in the streets of Baghdad and southern cities.

The protests, which began in Baghdad on October 1 and have spread through southern cities, are the most complex, facing the country.

Some young protesters say politicians are corrupt, beholden to foreign powers and blame them for a failure to recover from years of conflict despite relative calm since the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.

Security forces opened fire on protesters who had gathered on a bridge in Nassiriya before dawn, medical sources said.

Sixteen were killed and dozens wounded, they said. A curfew was imposed in Najaf after protesters stormed and set fire to the Iranian consulate late on Wednesday. Businesses and government offices remained closed in the city, state media reported.

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