Iranian foreign minister warns neighbors


Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran

Iran’s foreign minister on Monday warned neighboring countries against fomenting unrest after anti-government protests roiled the country over the past two weeks.

The remarks by Mohammad Javad Zarif at a security conference in Tehran echoed previous allegations by Iranian officials, who have blamed the violence that accompanied some of the protests on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“Some countries tried to misuse the recent incidents,” Zarif said, without naming them. “No country can create a secure environment for itself at the expense of creating insecurity among its neighbors.”

“Such efforts” will only backfire, the official IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying.

The anti-government demonstrations first broke out in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, on Dec. 28 and later spread to several other cities and towns. The protests were the largest seen in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election. They were sparked by a hike in food prices amid soaring unemployment, but some demonstrators later called for the government’s overthrow and chanted against the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At least 21 people were killed and hundreds arrested. Large pro-government rallies were held in response.

In the past few days, Iranian authorities have said the protests are waning, and on Sunday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed the nation and its security forces had ended the unrest.

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