The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has told Iranians to end the weeks-long demonstrations that have gripped the country, warning that Saturday would be their “last day” of protest.
Speaking from the funeral of victims of the attack carried out by Islamic State in the city of Shiraz on Wednesday, Hossein Salami called on Iranian young people specifically to desist from protesting.
“Today is the last day of the riots. Do not come to the streets again. What do you want from this nation?” Salami said.
Protests have swept through the Islamic Republic for weeks following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died on September 16 after being detained by “morality police” and taken to a “re-education center,” allegedly for not abiding by the country’s conservative dress code.
Protesters in the eastern city of Zahedan encountered teargas and gunfire following Friday prayers, according to videos posted on social media and provided by IranWire, an activist website. At least one 12-year-old boy was shot, according to video posted on activist group 1500tasvir’s social channels.
Salami criticized the supposed influence of American and Israeli politicians on the protest movement, alleging that they do “not call you directly, but through their media they force you to face your society.”
Claims of foreign interference
He previously issued a warning to Saudi Arabia last week as his government continued to face off against protesters at home. “You are involved in this matter and know that you are vulnerable, it is better to be careful,” he said on the sidelines of a military drill last week.
Salami was referring to what state news outlets called a “media war” that they say is being waged against “the Iranian youth and nation” by foreign conspirators seeking to create unrest in the country by supporting protesters there.
Then, on Thursday Iran again warned Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and the United Kingdom, to “stop interfering in the country’s internal affairs.”
The following day, Iran accused the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US State Department of playing a major role in recent protests in Iran by meeting and cooperating with the leaders of Iran’s Kurdistan region last month, in a statement.
A rare joint statement from the IRGC Intelligence Unit and Intelligence Ministry was published on Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency. The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, founded after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 by the order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The statement said the CIA, under the cover of the US State Department, visited the headquarters of the “separatist group called Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran” in the city of Erbil, Kurdistan region of Iraq, and met and talked with the leader of that group named Mustafa Hijri.”
It also added that “the American spy organization” wanted to play a greater role in the disturbances that occurred in some cities of Iranian Kurdistan.
The CIA declined comment on the matter. The US State Department did not issue any response Friday but on October 14, while meeting Iranian civil society activists, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “I know that the Iranian regime will try to paint this and other expressions of solidarity with those standing up for their freedoms as evidence that these protests are somehow made outside of Iran, the work of others, and if that’s the case, if they genuinely believe that they fundamentally, fundamentally do not understand their own people,” Blinken said, “because this is about Iran’s struggle, the struggle of the people of Iran for the fundamental freedoms that have long been denied, that’s what this is about.”
“The sooner the regime understands that and acts on that, the better everyone will be,” he said.
CNN’s Hande Atay Alam and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.