CIA, Israel, Saudi Arabia Are 'Main Designers' of Iran Protests, Tehran Legal Official Claims

Iranian prosecutor general says that CIA planned to turn the protest into an 'armed' insurrection by mid-February, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution

Iranian pro-government supporters after authorities declared the end of unrest, in Mashhad, Jan 4, 2018

Iran's prosecutor general has directly named a CIA official as being the "main designer" of the protests that have shaken the country. The Trump administration has denied having any hand in the protests and the CIA declined to comment.

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Mohammad Jafar Montazeri's comments Thursday, carried by the state-run IRNA news agency, said the CIA official headed an operation that had Israeli and Saudi support.

>> Despite social media blackout, protests in Iran persist in face of regime crackdown <<

Montazeri alleged that the CIA planned to turn the protest into an "armed" insurrection by mid-February, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

A senior Trump administration official on Wednesday disputed the notion that the U.S. played any role in instigating the unrest in Iran, saying the United States had not expected them to occur.

The official said: "The protests were entirely spontaneously generated."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Iran's interior minister said earlier that some 42,000 people took part in the week of protests that roiled the Islamic Republic.

Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in a statement Thursday that the figure was "based on precise statistics we have."

Fazli said the continuation of the protests during the past week was because of the "leniency, restrain, tolerance and interaction" of the government. He did not elaborate.

This is the first time authorities have given a figure for the total number of participants in the protests.

On Wednesday, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the chief of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, said the biggest gathering included some 1,500 protesters.

The protest began last Thursday in Mashhad and quickly extended to other cities. Unrest surrounding them has killed at least 21 people.

Claims of more protests in Iran dropped overnight Wednesday after a week of unrest that killed at least 21 people.

It wasn't immediately clear if the drop on Thursday meant that the demonstrations are subsiding or that the Iranian government's blocking of social media apps has stopped protesters from offering new images of rallies.

In Tehran, streets were calm and clear at the start of the Iranian weekend.
On Wednesday, Iranian state media covered massive pro-government rallies in dozens of cities across the Islamic Republic.

The protests began on Dec. 28, sparked by Iran's flagging economy and a rise in food prices, before morphing over the following days into calls for the downfall of Iran's theocratic government.

Hundreds have been arrested by authorities over the unrest.