IRAN: Tehran blames West for riots

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Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi has accused Western nations and media of supporting violent protests in an attempt to create anarchy and split apart the Islamic Republic.

The BBC and Voice of America “are the mouthpiece of their government’s public diplomacy,’ Qashqavi said during a press conference today. ‘They have two guidelines regarding Iran. One is to intensify ethnic and racial rifts within Iran and secondly to disintegrate the Iranian territories.’


He added: ‘Any contact with these channels, under any pretext or in any form, means contacting the enemy of the Iranian nation. How can they say they are unbiased when their TV channel is like a war headquarters and in fact they are blatantly commanding riots? Therefore their claims are absolutely wrong. Their governments have ratified decisions so that they can act in this way.’

Iranian authorities have become increasingly agitated at what they claim is Western meddling. Britain and the U.S. have denied such accusations, but years of ill will between Washington and Iran are playing like background music as Tehran appears a city divided between reformist protesters and government-backed militias.

And as the power struggle inside Iran’s political class appeared to intensify, with reformist and conservative leaders exchanging sharp statements that blamed each other for last week’s deadly street violence, authorities announced irregularities that could affect 3 million votes in 50 cities.

The Guardian Council, which oversees elections, found that ‘votes collected in 50 cities surpass the number of people eligible to cast ballots in those areas,’ state-owned Press TV reported. A spokesman for the council said the votes were not enough to reverse the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who the government said won a landslide 63% of the vote in defeating opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Mousavi has urged his followers to “continue to show restraint.” But Iran’s Revolutionary Guard issued a harsh warning against future protests. In a statement posted on its website, the guard warned demonstrators that if they persisted they must ‘be prepared for a resolution and revolutionary confrontation with the Guards, Basiji and other security forces and disciplinary forces.’

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo