Conflicting Reports Suggest A Number Of Injuries And Fatalities On Both Sides.
Police and protesters alike were injured in the southern Iranian city of Khorramshahr on Sunday after security forces turned their weapons on those protesting the country’s Islamist regime as efforts to crackdown on the anti-government protests have largely failed.
The city, which is located in the Arab-majority part of the country that has historically opposed Persian rule, saw protests begin Friday following several days of economic protests in the nation’s capital of Tehran. Video of the protests there show both sides were clearly armed, and that both sides fired their weapons, but it’s not clear which side initiated the violence.
Although the Associated Press confirmed there was bloodshed when security forces fired on the protesters, it could not confirm any fatalities. Its report suggested most of the injuries were to police who were attacked by protesters but also noted the source for its information was the Iranian government.
However, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya newspaper reported four deaths and several injuries as a result of the violence, while BBC Persian reported it could confirm “at least one” fatality. The Times of Israel also reported confirmation of four deaths during the protests.
Iran’s economic collapse, exacerbated by President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, has reached a boiling point for many Iranians due to a nearly decade-long drought that has plagued the country. Drinking water soon to be short supply, while the nation’s leaders squander their limited resources on foreign interventions aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and provoking Israel.
The timing of the protests appears to coincide with the National Council of Resistance of Iran hosting its annual Free Iran conference in Paris. Among the speakers at this year’s event, which is closely affiliated with the (former) terrorist group Mujahideen e Khalq, were former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Speaking to Reuters following his speech at the event, Giuliani said:
“I can’t speak for the president, but it sure sound like he doesn’t think there is much of a chance of a change in behavior uniless there is a change in people and philosophy … Anybody who thinks the Ayatollahs are honest people is a fool. They are crooks and that’s what Europe is propping up—murderers and sponsors of terrorism. Instead of taking an opportunity to topple them, they are now left propping them up.”
The overriding theme of the conference was a call for regime change this year.
The president has previously stated the next round of sanctions against Iran will be focused on regime change but with violence growing inside the country, there could be much more happening to tip the balance.