As Death Toll Rises, Iran Blames US And Israel For Protests

Dr. E.C. Beuck

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of IranKhamenei.ir via Wikimedia Commons

Protests have continued to spread in Iran in the weeks since the death of Mahsa Amini. The passing of the young Kurdish woman who had fallen into a coma after being detained by the Morality Police for supposedly breaking the strict law that has required all women cover their hair with a hijab or headscarf has led to much anger in Iranian society. In response, the regime has acted to crack down on protests and criticisms of the regime, which has led to a death toll surpassing 130, hundreds more injured, and more than 1500 arrested by the regime. Despite the regime sanctioned violence and repression, significant numbers of the people of Iran continue to voice their discontent with the mandatory hijab law that has existed since 1979, the Morality Police as a whole, and the regime itself for the death of Mahsa Amini.

Rather than seeking to address the grievances of his people, however, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has asserted that the United States and Israel were behind the organization of the protests against the regime. Indeed, the Ayatollah explicitly stated "I say clearly that these riots and the insecurity were engineered by America and the occupying, false Zionist regime [Israel], as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad." As in previous accusations levied against foreign powers, the Ayatollah has failed to provide evidence in support of this claim. Perhaps this deflection is not a surprise, however, as the protests represent one of the largest challenges to the Islamic regime in a decade. Given that the regime headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wishes to keep power and avoid looking weak to observers both within and outside of Iran, we can expect continued blame to be levied against the enemies of Iran in the international community, as well as continued repression domestically until the protests themselves end.

In response to the violence, the US has criticized the violence of the Iranian regime against its people, as well as indicated support for the Iranian women engaging in the protests. The US has also gone on to impose sanctions against the Morality Police of Iran, and indicated that additional measures might be implemented should the violence against any peaceful protestors continue. Though these are important steps, given the Iranian regimes concerns about keeping a firm grasp on power the likelihood of these actions by the US leading to more measured responses by Iran might be slim at best.

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Holding a PhD in Political Science, I write about current events and on political topics related to international relations, international law, conflict both between and within states, and the interactions between technology and politics.

Washington, DC
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