Concerns Over Possible Iranian Attack

Iran blocked access to the Internet for more than eight days in November for fear of information about widespread protests reaching the international community. Those protests started on 15th November, prompted by a sharp rise in the price of petrol.

Now that Internet access has been partially restored, some videos have appeared on social media that reveal the government crackdown has been even more brutal than many feared.

Damage caused during protests in IranDamage caused during protests in Iran (photo by Reuters)

Amnesty International reports that the number of people believed to have been killed during the protests has risen to at least 208, but suggest the real figure is likely to be higher.

Shahriar city in the Tehran province is one of the cities with the highest death tolls, and dozens of deaths have been recorded there.

Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said

“This shocking death toll displays the Iranian authorities’ shameful disregard for human life.”

In addition to those killed, other sources suggest that the number of people injured runs into thousands.

Today, Al Jazeera reports that for the first time Iranian state television acknowledged that security forces have shot and killed people described as ‘rioters’ during protests over the ‘spike’ in petrol prices – prices which are set by the government.

That Iranian report claimed that some of those killed were ‘rioters who have attacked sensitive or military centres with firearms or knives, or have taken hostages in some areas.’

Others say that many peaceful civilians are among those who have been killed and injured.

This violence in Iran has prompted increased concerns that the Iranian leadership may launch an attack against Israel, so as to draw attention away from its troubles at home.

A brief statement from the White House said that US President Donald Trump spoke to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, with talks focusing on the threat from Iran.

In contrast to the Americans, European governments seem determined to strengthen relationships with the Iranian regime.

On Saturday six more countries signed-up to the Instex mechanism which works around the US sanctions against Iran. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are the latest countries to join. It seems that they care little about the ordinary Iranians.