Rouhani declares 'victory' after protests suppressed

Iranian President declares “victory” over foreign enemies whom he blames for wave of violent demonstrations over hike in fuel prices.

Elad Benari,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday declared “victory” over foreign enemies after a wave of violent demonstrations that swept the country following a hike in fuel prices calmed down.

Amnesty International said it had documented at least 106 deaths of protesters killed by security forces, making it the worst street unrest in Iran in at least a decade and possibly since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, reported Reuters.

The internet has been shut down in Iran for days, making it difficult to obtain reliable reports of the extent of the unrest. But it appears to be the worst violence at least since Iran put down a “Green Revolution” in 2009, when dozens were killed over several months.

“The Iranian people have again succeeded in an historic test and shown they will not let enemies benefit from the situation, even though they might have complaints about the country’s management,” Rouhani was quoted by Reuters as having said.

The unrest erupted on Friday, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month.

On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the increases in gas and fuel prices, saying the protests against the move were encouraged by Iran’s enemies.

Tehran has blamed “thugs” linked to exiles and foreign foes - the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia - for the unrest.

Iran's economy has been battered since May last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions.

In response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and its imposition of sanctions, Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.