Senior Officer Warns Gulf Neighbors On Interfering In Iran As Unrest Continues

A senior Iranian military commander has warned Persian Gulf countries that they need to choose between “their media” and their security if they interfere in Iran’s affairs.

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, special military adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, issued the warning on November 10 in a speech that appeared to be a thinly veiled threat to Saudi Arabia, in particular, over what Tehran sees as meddling by foreign “enemies” during weeks of unrest following the death of a young woman while in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police for an alleged dress code violation.

During the speech, Safavi referred to the “countries on the southern border of the Persian Gulf” as “wretched” and warned that they would pay “compensation” if they interfere in Iran’s affairs.

The threats came a day after Iran said it had designated the London-based news channel Iran International as a “terrorist” organization and that employees and those “related” to the outlet will be prosecuted. Separately, the broadcaster has said London’s Metropolitan Police had informed the broadcaster of an imminent threat against two of its journalists and their families.

Iranian authorities consider Iran International TV to be affiliated with Saudi Arabia. However, in a recent statement, the station called itself “an independent Persian-language network based in Britain.”

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on November 11 accused Iranian authorities of issuing death threats to U.K.-based journalists.

“I have summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires today after journalists working in the U.K. were subject to immediate threats to life from Iran,” he wrote in a tweet. “We do not tolerate threats and intimidation from foreign nations towards individuals living in the U.K.”

The Iranian government has unleashed a brutal crackdown on weeks of unrest — one of the deepest challenges to the Islamic regime since the revolution in 1979 — that erupted following the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly.

The alleged rape of a 15-year-old Baluch girl by a local police official in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan on September 30 further fueled the animosity as protesters demanded accountability.

Reports on November 11 indicate that protests took place in various cities in the southeast Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan, including Zahedan, Saravan, Rask, Khash, Iranshahr, and Chabahar after the end of Friday Prayers.

In videos released from Iranshahr, security forces could be seen lobbing tear gas at the protesters while what seem to be gunshots can be heard in the background.

Top Iranian Sunni cleric Molavi Abdulhamid on November 11 again emphasized in his Friday Prayer sermon in Zahedan that the majority of Iranians of all religions and ethnicities are protesting the current situation, and that the authorities must listen to their message.

Earlier this month, the cleric, regarded as a spiritual leader for Iran’s Sunni Muslim population, said senior officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, were “responsible” for the killing of protesters in Zahedan and called for an immediate referendum with the presence of international observers to “change policies based on the wishes of the people.”

Amnesty International has called the police reaction to the deadly clashes part of an “alarming escalation in the use of force and firearms” in dealing with protesters.

Since Amini’s death, more than 300 people have been killed in the police crackdown, according to rights groups. Several thousand more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda
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