Iranian Regime Mouthpiece Blames Israel for Wave of Anti-government Protests

Among the culprits, according to Iran's state-sponsored Kayhan paper, are Netanyahu and the late Israeli President Shimon Peres

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the AP and obtained outside Iran, demonstrators gather to protest against Iran's weak economy, Tehran, Iran, Saturday, December 30, 2017.
/AP

Sunday’s front page article in Iran’s state-sponsored Kayhan newspaper claimed that the current wave of protests, as well as the anti-government demonstrations that took place in 2009, known as the Green Movement, are part of an Israeli plot against Iran and Islam.

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Kayhan’s article Sunday quoted its editor-in-chief, Hossein Shariatmadari, as saying that Israel, the U.S. and England are responsible for the “difficult living conditions” in Iran, and that these “foreign infiltrators” are the true actors behind the current demonstrations and the Green Movement.

Three days of widespread protests against the Iranian regime overtook the country this weekend, with protesters chanting slogans such as “Death to Khamenei,” referring to Iran’s Supreme Leader. Two protesters have been killed so far, a semi-official state news agency quoted an official as saying.

>> The Iranian regime has learned to fear protesters – what happens next depends on how brutally it responds | Analysis >>

A screenshot of Kayhan's front page, considered a pro-Khamenei mouthpiece in Iran, December 31, 2017.
Screenshot, Kayhan.ir

Kayhan's article points to two main Israeli culprits, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and former President Shimon Peres. Netanyahu is falsely said to have claimed responsibility for the 2009 Green Movement, referred to as “violators” in the article. The piece also falsely states that Shimon Peres, who died in 2016, said “the Green Movement was a representation of Israel to fight against the Islamic Republic.” 

On Saturday, two Israeli ministers spoke out in support of the wave of protests, saying that the demonstrators were "bravely standing up" to a regime that was spending billions of dollars funding foreign terror groups instead of "investing in the Iranian people." In response, Netanyahu requested that his government “minimize” its comments.  

Shariatmadari’s Saturday speech was delivered at the anniversary event of the “9 Dey Rally,” a protest organized by the Iranian regime in response to the Green Movement. Shariatmadari is a close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and holds the official position of “representative of the supreme leader,” in his role at the newspaper.

Iran’s 2009 elections between reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi and hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked the country’s previous wave of popular protests, after Ahmedinead was declared the winner in elections called fraudulent by demonstrators. The uprising became known as the Green Movement because protesters took on Mousavi’s campaign color and demanded government reform, as well as Ahmedinejad’s ouster.

The Iranian regime set up its own rally in response to the Green Movement’s mass protests on the 9th day of the Persian month Dey in 2009. The New York Times wrote in its coverage of the “9 Dey Rally” that protesters were provided transportation to the rally and given free chocolate milk upon arrival. The Associated Press reported that civil servants were given the day off, so that they could attend the rally.