On January 6, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said during a visit to the northwestern province of Azerbaijan that the Iranian people will foil the “enemies’ vicious plots” against Iran and promised that security forces will soon give “crushing response” to terrorists and groups hostile to the Islamic Republic in the province, according to the Iranian Press TV.
Alavi also stressed that security forces will not allow the enemies of Iran to undermine the country’s security and promised that “terrorists” will fail to achieve their goals.
The Iranian Intelligence Minister statement is clearly directed against a part of the anti-government protestors accused by the Iranian government of organizing riots and criminal acts under the pretext of political protesting.
Azerbaijan province had witnessed some of the biggest anti-government protests in Iran since December 28, 2017. In many cases, the protests developed into riots and clashes with security forces. Some protestors attacked public buildings and even bases of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Many observers said that the protests in Azerbaijan province were fueled by ethnic motives, as most of the Iranian citizens there are Azari origins (Iranian Azerbaijanis). However, the Iranian opposition rejects this narrative.
Iranian activists claim that over 1,000 civilians were arrested by the Iranian authorities during the last protests all across the country, including 90 students of Tehran University. From its side, the Iranian government and Iranian pro-government sources said that security forces arrested only those who broke the law.