Nov 20, 2019 20:10 UTC
  •  Iran summons Swiss envoy to protest US support for rioters

Tehran has summoned the Swiss ambassador, whose country represents US interests in Iran, to protest Washington’s interference in the Islamic Republic’s internal affairs.

Markus Leitner was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to receive an official protest note regarding the US’s expression of support for a series of violent riots that hit a number of Iranian cities over the past days, IRNA reported.

Protests erupted in a number of Iranian cities in recent days after a decision by authorities to ration gasoline and substantially increase the fuel price as part of efforts to blunt the effects of US sanctions on the country's economy.

The move prompted some peaceful protests, but riotous elements, abusing the situation, quickly entered the scene, destroying public property, setting ablaze banks and gas stations among other facilities, and opening fire on people and security forces.

There have been reports of fatalities among both security forces and civilians amid the unrest that followed the protests.

When the riots broke out, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to take to Twitter to support the violent acts of rioters, whom he described as “the people of Iran.”

Separately, the White House released a statement on Sunday, supporting "the Iranian people” in their protests.

Senior Iranian officials slammed the US double interference and double standards regarding the protests.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned as a “disgraceful lie” the US’s expression of support, saying Washington must, before anything, be responsible for waging economic terrorism and perpetrating crimes against humanity in dealing with Iranians.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi also denounced Pompeo’s support for rioters, saying the US is not sympathetic toward the Iranian people, but supports spread of chaos.

The dignified people of Iran are well aware that such hypocritical remarks contain no honest sympathy and the [violent] actions of a group of anarchists and saboteurs who are supported by the likes of him are by no means in line with the conduct and behavior of the majority of the understanding and insightful Iranian people,” he said.

 “It is interesting that [Pompeo] is sympathizing with the people who are under pressure of the United States’ economic terrorism. He had already explicitly said that the people of Iran must be kept hungry until they give in to ‘our demands’,” he added.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that rioters were few, but were “organized, armed and tasked with acting in a calculated manner.”