Iranian police open fire on protesters

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Iranian protesters gather at Mobile market in Tehran on June 25, 2018. In the latest protest in Iran, several people were injured in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr late Saturday during a demonstration against water pollution, Iranian state media reported. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
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Protesters chant slogans at the main gate of old grand bazaar in Tehran on June 25, 2018. In the latest protest in Iran, several people were injured in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr late Saturday during a demonstration against water pollution, Iranian state media reported. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)
Updated 02 July 2018

Iranian police open fire on protesters

  • Demonstration over polluted water latest sign of growing unrest
  • Khorramshahr has been the scene of demonstrations for the past three days, along with the nearby city of Abadan.

JEDDAH: Iranian police opened fire with live ammunition and tear-gas canisters early on Sunday as protests against the Tehran regime turned violent.

The shots rang out when about 500 young people gathered in the main square and outside a mosque in the southwestern city of Khorramshahr in a demonstration against water shortages and pollution. 

Khorramshahr has been the scene of demonstrations for the past three days, along with the nearby city of Abadan. State television showed banks with broken windows and footage of a demonstrator armed with a rifle.

Police fired tear gas as protesters set fire to a bridge, and to a garden surrounding a museum which is a memorial to the Iran-Iraq war.

The protests were the latest outbreak of unrest throughout Iran, following demonstrations and strikes in Tehran last week over economic mismanagement. 

Iran has been facing mounting economic woes since the United States in May pulled out of a 2015 accord between Tehran and world powers that had lifted international sanctions in exchange for curbs on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

Iran’s currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months against the US dollar and inflation is on the rise.

Traders in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar held a rare strike on Monday against the collapse of the rial.

Brief scuffles also broken out on Monday between protesters and police in the capital.

“Iran is experiencing a major political earthquake again,” said the Iranian-American political scientist and Arab News columnist Dr. Majid Rafizadeh.

“The fault lines in these protests are crystal clear,” he told Arab News. “On the one side, we have the theocratic regime and its suppressive forces; and on the other, we have the Iranian people who are protesting for political and economic reasons.

“The growing scope of the protests across Iran’s cities and towns highlight that the Iranian people are fearless, courageous, and fed up with the political establishment. The regime is facing a significant threat to its hold on power.

“There are several similarities with the run-up to the 1979 revolution. The middle class is joining the labor and worker class. Furthermore, many of the merchants and traders, the conservative base of the Islamic Republic, continue to demonstrate against the ruling establishment. And more people from the capital are coming on to the streets. These are major factors that are required for a revolution.”

The Iranian-American political commentator Camelia Entekhabifard told Arab News: “Poverty and massive dissatisfaction with the inefficiency of the system and financial and administrative corruption in Iran are the main causes of the protests and unrest in Khorramshahr.

“Asieh Bakeri, the daughter of an Iran-Iraq war hero from Khorramshahr, said on Twitter that no sound hurt her heart so much as the sound of gunfire she heard on the video footage from the city. Today, the regime is on one side and all the Iranian people, from Mashhad to Tehran and Khorramshahr, are on the other.”

Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri said in statements broadcast on state television that Iran is suffering from several problems, not just US sanctions.

Among Iran’s “woes,” he cited its dependence on oil revenues along with a weak private sector and a fragile banking sector.

Industry Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari told a news conference in Tehran on Saturday that the situation was not “critical” but “special.”

He urged foreign firms working in Iran to resist US “threats” of sanctions and to continue doing business in the country.

(With AFP)

Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

Updated 9 min 15 sec ago

Leaders of Japan, France share Middle East concerns

TOKYO: French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to bolster naval defense ties in the Indo-Pacific region and shared concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East.
Macron, in Tokyo ahead of this week’s Group of 20 summit in Osaka, told a joint news conference that he also hoped tensions over the US-China trade dispute will ease during the summit.
The two leaders discussed nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran and issues to be raised at the G-20 summit.
Macron said he and Abe agreed on the need to ensure the verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of both Iran and North Korea.
“On both these topics we have a common point of view and a real will, in the two cases, to reach collective security by the non-acquisition of nuclear weapons or the total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” Macron said. “And we have the will to ensure the stability of these regions.”
Abe said protecting the safety of the Strait of Hormuz is also crucial. During his recent visit to Tehran in hopes of de-escalating tensions between Iran and the US, a Japanese oil tanker was attacked, though all 21 crewmembers were safe.
“Securing safety of navigation at the Strait of Hormuz, which connects Europe and Asia, is extremely important for the peace and stability of international society including Japan and France,” Abe said. He said he and Macron shared concerns about the rising tension in the Middle East, and reaffirmed their cooperation in efforts to stabilize the situation.
Asked about former Nissan and Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn, charged with financial misconduct, Macron said he is “attached to the principle of the presumption of innocence and to the rights of the defense.” He also said France is responsible for protecting an important company and its employees from a negative impact, and to reaffirm the “solidity” of Renault and that of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Macron said heightened tensions caused by the trade dispute between the US and China are also a global concern.
“We are at a time of very high tensions between the United States and China, so I wish we have, during the G-20, talks that will enable the appeasement of these tensions,” Macron said.
“For me, the solution to the problems we encounter is not in bilateral agreements, is not in bypassing international rules, is not in protectionism, but it is very clearly in the modernization of the trade multilateral framework,” Macron said.
Talks planned for Saturday between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit are getting extensive attention.
Abe, at another news conference, said he hopes the two leaders will have a constructive dialogue.
Japan and France also unveiled a five-year roadmap of cooperation focusing on maritime security, especially in the Indo-Pacific where China has been growing increasingly assertive. They also agreed to promote cooperation in defense technology, space, and science and technology.