Iranian leader Khamenei blames 'enemies' for protests

Protesters gather in Tehran as unrest spreads across Iran

Could real change be on the cards?

Iran describes itself as an Islamic Republic.

The protests started on December 28 in Mashhad and unexpectedly spread to dozens of cities across the country.

The rallies come after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday blamed days of protests across the country on meddling by "enemies of Iran".

"We have no information yet whether it was protesters or the police that fired yesterday [Sunday] and the issue is under investigation", the report quoted him as saying.

Thank you! Your submission has been received! The Iranian leaders promised foreign investment would flow again.

The demonstrations are the largest seen in Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election.

Iran said Donald Trump's "absurd" tweets have incited anti-regime protests and the United States "has crossed every limit" in worldwide relations.

At least 12 people have been killed in the ongoing protests in Iran, and armed protesters have tried to take over police stations and military bases, state TV reported Monday.

"The enemies have united and are using all their means, money, weapons, policies and security services to create problems for the Islamic regime", the supreme leader said in remarks on state television.

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The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as US President Donald Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes.

Tensions between the United States and Israel on one side and Iran on the other have reached new heights since Mr. Trump took office in January 2017. Mohammed Reza Shah, who ruled the country until 1979, was a staunch ally of the West who relied on foreign support to shore up his reign.

Iran has limited freedom of expression, but internet-connected devices have given Iranians a powerful new tool to communicate with one another - and the outside world.

The protests highlight discontent with the lack of economic progress under President Rouhani, who was first elected on a reformist platform in 2013, promising to lead Iran out of its global isolation, guarantee greater freedoms and improve the economy.After Tehran and six major powers agreed on a deal to limit Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, hopes were high that an end to the sanctions would end inequality. Despite now being able to sell oil on the worldwide market after the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran faces rising inflation and high unemployment. Discontent was brewing beneath the surface for a while. This will more likely cause more people to become disaffected with the regime.

Popular demonstrations ignited by smoldering resentment about Iran's mismanaged economy has quickly escalated to political denunciations of Tehran's rulers. Demonstrators' videos corresponded with Associated Press reporting from outside of Iran, though individual activists remain unreachable and the protests for now appear leaderless. Experts estimate a smaller, but potentially more widespread turnout than in 2009.

The protests apparently were triggered by a surge in prices of basic food supplies, which also had contributed to early Arab Spring protests six years ago.

Andrew Peek told The National that the administration is trying to alter the behavior of the Iran's current leadership. Specifically, he added, Mr. Rouhani could submit a package of major reforms to Parliament, which include "constitutional amendments to empower elected institutions".

Such language offers Iranian dissidents false hope, just as former President George H.W. Bush raised the hopes of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds in 1991 when, near the end of the first Gulf War, he said that the Iraqi people could "take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside".

"This is nothing", Rouhani said in a statement on the presidency website. "What we would like to see above all is the regime change its behavior, in a whole lot of ways, but in particular towards the protesters", Peek said.

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