Fresh US sanctions trigger protests in Tehran

New US sanctions against Iran triggered pro-government rallies in over 40 locations around Tehran after Friday prayers.

The US imposed sanctions against five Iranian firms alleged to have been working on an illegal ballistic missile programme thereby throwing their weight behind anti-government people whose protests have lost steam.

One pro-government protester Mohsen, an IT engineer, told AFP on Friday that Iranians can tackle their own problems and will never allow Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel to intervene.

Iranian officials alleged that CIA, Israel and Saudi Arabia had plotted the unrest that recently hit several cities for nearly a week.

Chief prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said the main plotter was Michael D’Andrea, head of the CIA’s Iran desk and plan dated back four years.

The three countries started social media campaigns like ‘no’ to high prices, and ‘no’ to paying bills, Montazeri said, adding that their plan was to instigate unrest in the provinces before moving it to Tehran. Efforts were also made to infiltrate the Islamic State into the country.

Heavy police presence was reported on the streets of Tehran on Friday although there were no reports of fresh anti-government protests. Police appeared to be clueless on those behind the unrest as they asked people to send them photos of suspects and to identify those caught on camera.

President Hassan Rouhani’s (pictured)  conservative rivals have denied any role in the unrest.

In the meantime, Russia and Turkey have extended their support to Iran. Russia criticised the US for calling a special meeting on Iran on Friday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country cannot accept countries that interfere in the internal affairs of Iran.