Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei charged Saturday that recent unrest in Iran was due to foreign “enemies” trying to destroy the Islamic Republic.
The US and its allies are waging a “psychological war” against Iran, he said, by calling the country out for piracy for seizing two Greek ships — after the US confiscated Iranian oil from a tanker, Reuters reported Saturday.
“Today, the enemies’ most important hope for striking a blow at the country is based on popular protests,” Khamenei said, alluding to a week-long protest over the collapse of a building in southwestern Iran last month that killed 37 people.
“They hope to turn the people against the Islamic establishment and the Islamic Republic through psychological work, activities on the internet and cyberspace … and by spending money and recruiting mercenaries.”
“But the enemies’ calculation is as wrong as many earlier ones,” he said in a TV speech on the 33rd anniversary of the death of the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Officials say the collapse of the 10-story residential and commercial building in Abadan was due to corrupt local authorities and poor safety regulations. They said that 13 people, including mayors and other officials, have so far been arrested for construction violations.
Protesters claim, though, that the disaster was the result of government negligence and corruption and have been chanting slogans against officials, including Khamenei, Reuters reported.
Iranian citizens have reported the disruption of the Internet which they see as an effort to prevent protesters from using social media to organize rallies and release videos.
The US, which has imposed tough sanctions on Iran, confiscated the Iranian oil cargo on the Iranian-flagged Pegas that Greece impounded off its coast in April. Tehran retaliated by seizing two Greek ships on May 27.
While media from around the world accused Iran of piracy, Khamenei responded: “Who is the pirate here? You stole our oil. We took it back from you. Taking back a stolen good is no theft.”