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Iran Says U.S., Britain Encouraging Unrest | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AP)

President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AP)

President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AP)

TEHRAN, Iran, AP – Iran accused the United States and Britain on Sunday of stoking the unrest that has broken out among its Kurdish and Arab minorities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi offered little evidence for his allegations, but he suggested that Washington and London were giving encouragement to Arabs and Kurds who have rioted in western and northwestern Iran.

&#34This is not acceptable at all,&#34 Asefi told a news conference.

Asefi said the United States is &#34stuck&#34 in Iraq and is trying to divert attention from its plight by sowing unrest across the border.

Under U.S. protection, Iraq”s Kurds have enjoyed autonomy and a booming economy, fueled partly by trade with Iran. Iraq”s ascendant Kurds engage in contacts — including lucrative exports of illegal liquor and other goods — with their kin across the border.

On Thursday, Human Rights watch said at least 17 people had been killed and hundreds more injured and arrested in anti-government protests in Iran”s Kurdish northwest.

The New York-based rights group blamed the killings on Iranian security forces and said their indiscriminate shooting had also wounded hundreds of people.

Asefi also said April riots in Iran”s western Khuzestan province that left at least one protester dead were encouraged by the British presence in Iraq. Khuzestan borders southern Iraq, where security is under the control of British troops in the multinational force.

&#34Some provocateurs were trained in a part of Iraq which is under control of Britain,&#34 Asefi said. &#34We have made objections and warned Britain about the repercussions of such behavior.&#34

In Kurdistan, the unrest rocked several towns over the past month. The killings and arrests led to more protests, with shopkeepers shuttering their businesses and the government closing down two newspapers and detaining journalists and activists.

Security forces were also said to be among those hurt and killed in the unrest.

Residents have said undeclared martial law is in force.

&#34Peace has returned to the area but security is tight. Dozens of activists are still in jail,&#34 said Kurdish activist Vahed Qaribian.

Human Rights Watch said the security forces wounded hundreds when they opened fire in Mahabad on demonstrators who were protesting the police”s killing of a young Kurdish activist, Shivan Qaderi, on July 9.

Iranian media have suggested the protests were rooted in the poverty that remains prevalent in the Iranian Kurdish areas.

Iranian hardline students, chant slogans, in front of the British Embassy in Tehran (AP)

Iranian hardline students, chant slogans, in front of the British Embassy in Tehran (AP)

Iranian students burn down the flag of Israel (AP)

Iranian students burn down the flag of Israel (AP)