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Shouts against Oppression, Starvation Confuse Rouhani’s Visit to Kurdistan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (Reuters)

Irbil, London-During his visit to Kermanshah, the largest city in Iranian Kurdistan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was received yesterday with an angry welcome from residents, according to sources from the province.

A Kurdish activist from Kermanshah told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, on condition of anonymity, that a very small number of residents had came to welcome Rouhani. The source said that when the president delivered his speech in the city’s stadium, the crowd chanted slogans denouncing his visit and condemning the oppressive, starving policy Tehran was practicing against them.

Member of the Kurdistan Freedom Party in Iran Ribaz Sharifi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Rouhani’s visit to the region aimed at sending a message from the regime to residents that the president was unhappy with the performance of some local politicians. However, the slogans shouted by residents messed up all the plans.

Several cities in the Kurdistan province and others in the Baluchestan and Ahwaz provinces witnessed protests and confrontations between residents and security forces.

During his speech Sunday, Rouhani said the era of coups seized by tanks and helicopters was gone and asserted that voting remains the only key to finding solutions in Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. His comments came two days following the failed attempted coup by the military forces in Ankara, Turkey.

He said: “We are in a region where, unfortunately, some think can seize power by tank, plane and helicopter, and topple a government which has been elected by the people.”

In the last two days, Iranian officials have tried to justify the Iranian intervention in the Syrian crisis by comparing the situation with the internal Turkish developments and what Syria had witnessed in the past five years. Iran considers Turkey its strategic and economic ally although relations between both countries have been rocky due to opposing views concerning the Syrian crisis and Bashar Assad.

During his speech, Rouhani also tackled internal affairs by mentioning the recent scandal concerning inflated salaries.

Rouhani said his administration would counter the issue, which he said involved only a small number of officials. “The number of officials does not exceed 100, 200 or 300,” he said.