Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader, blamed “enemies” of Iran on Tuesday for protests that have left more than 20 people dead, in his first comments since the unrest started last week.
“In recent events, enemies of Iran have allied & used the various means they possess, including money, weapons, politics & intelligence services, to trouble the Islamic Republic,” reads a post in English on Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter account. “The enemy is always looking for an opportunity & any crevice to infiltrate & strike the Iranian nation.”
Ayatollah Khamenei did not specify which individuals or countries he was referring to, but he has long been hostile to the United States, and tensions have been high between Iran and Saudi Arabia as the two countries vie to influence the Middle East.
“I have something to say on these events, and I will speak to the dear people when the time is right,” he said on Twitter.
In a stream of posts on Twitter, he said “the dignity, security, and progress of the Iranian nation is owed to the self-sacrifice of the martyrs,” and added that the courage of the Iranian people had prevented the country’s enemies from “exerting their atrocities” and leaving Iran in a state worse than in Libya or Syria.
“The Iranian nation will forever owe the dear martyrs, who left behind their homes and families, to stand against the wicked enemies backed by westerners, easterners, as well as reactionaries of the region,” he said in another post.