Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Protests in Iran raged in the streets through Thursday, with protesters reminiscent of a bloody crackdown in the country’s southeast, despite renewed threats from the country’s intelligence minister and army chief against local dissent and the wider world.
Meanwhile, a senior official in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard claimed he “got past” possessing so-called hypersonic missiles without providing any evidence.
The protests in Iran, sparked by the September 16 death of a 22-year-old woman after she was detained by the country’s vice squad, have become one of the biggest ongoing challenges to the nation’s theocracy since the chaotic months following its Islamism 1979 developed revolution.
At least 328 people have been killed in the unrest and 14,825 others arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been monitoring the protests for 54 days. The Iranian government has remained silent on the death toll for weeks, while state media counterfactually claim that the security forces killed no one.
As protesters return to the streets to mark the 40th anniversary of remembrance for those previously killed — commemorations common in Iran and across the Middle East — the protests could turn into cyclical confrontations between an increasingly disaffected public and security forces who turn to greater violence to oppress them.
Despite government efforts to suppress the internet, online videos from Iran appeared to show demonstrations in the capital, Tehran, as well as other cities in the country. A video showed clouds of tear gas near Isfahan. Cries of “death to the dictator” could be heard – a common chant in the protests against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It was not immediately clear if there were any injuries or arrests during this round of protests, although Iran’s state news agency IRNA confirmed the demonstrations near Isfahan. They commemorated the September 30 raid in Zahedan, a city in Iran’s troubled Sistan and Balochistan province, where activists say security forces killed nearly 100 people with deadly force during demonstrations.
Meanwhile, Guard General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said in a speech on Thursday that his forces had acquired hypersonic missiles. However, he offered no photo, video or other evidence to support the claim, and the Guard’s extensive ballistic missile program is not known to have any of the weapons in its arsenal.
Hypersonic weapons, flying at speeds in excess of Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound, could pose critical challenges to missile defense systems due to their speed and maneuverability.
Like America, China is believed to be pursuing the guns. Russia claims it already has the weapons in service and said it used them on the battlefield in Ukraine.
“This system is very, very fast and can maneuver both in and out of the atmosphere,” Hajizadeh claimed. “This means that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s new missile can pass through both terrestrial air defense systems and the super-expensive extraterrestrial systems that missiles could target beyond Earth’s atmosphere.”
Iranian officials have kept threatening the protesters and the world at large. In an interview with Khamenei’s personal website, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib repeated threats against Saudi Arabia, a nation along with Britain, Israel and the US that officials have accused of fomenting unrest that appears to be focused on local grievances.
Khatib warned that Iran’s “strategic patience” may be exhausted.
“Throwing stones at mighty Iran by countries sitting in glass houses has no other meaning than crossing the lines of rationality into the darkness of stupidity,” Khatib said. “If there is the will of the Islamic Republic of Iran to retaliate and punish these countries, the glass palaces will undoubtedly collapse and these countries will not experience stability.”
Iran has accused Iran International of inciting protesters to a London-based Farsi-language satellite news channel once majority-owned by a Saudi national. The channel said in recent days that the Metropolitan Police had warned that two of its British-Iranian journalists were facing threats from Iran that “pose an imminent, credible and significant threat to their lives and those of their families”.
Last week, US officials said Saudi Arabia had shared information with America that suggested Iran could be preparing for an impending attack on the kingdom. Iran later called the claim “unfounded,” although threats from Tehran persist.
The commander of the Iranian Regular Army’s Ground Forces, Brig. Gen. Gen. Kiumars Heydari, separately issued his own threat to the protesters, which he called “flies”.
“If these flies are not treated today as revolutionary society expects, it is the will of the supreme leader of the revolution,” he reportedly told Platz im Land.
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