Over the last 24 hours signs have been emerging from inside of Iran that indicate the government could be preparing to crackdown on the protests which have erupted across the country since Friday. The protests were sparked by a nationwide increase of fuel prices and began in a number of Iranian cities. Government-controlled media, most notably Press TV, has attempted to downplay the severity of the protests, but reports from journalists inside of the country have painted a different picture. Protesters and riot police have clashed violently in many areas, and there has been damage to government buildings.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazil has warned that security forces will take action against the protesters if the ‘vandalism’ doesn’t end. “Under any circumstances, the country’s security and the people’s calm are the top priority for the law enforcement and our security and military forces,” Fazli said, making the position of the government quite clear. If the protesters do not end the demonstrations themselves, the Iranian government will do it for them.
Today, Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei gave a live speech to the nation. He stated his support for the fuel price raises, and blamed Iran’s foreign foes for the protests. Khamenei did not mention nations by name, but its almost certain he was referring to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and of course the United States. He also went on to caution officials about raising the prices of other goods.
The most alarming indication of a coming crackdown is the shut down of all internet access in Iran at the order of the government. Digital communication lines between journalists outside of the country, and their sources inside of it have gone dark. There has been some activity on Twitter, though its difficult to determine if the tweets are coming from government agents posing as protesters, or bona fide protesters. Restricting internet access serves two purposes for the Iranian government. It prevents its citizens from communicating with each other, as well as the outside world. And it keeps domestic events under a blanket away from the prying eyes of the social media world, which has become a major priority for many beleagured governments across the world right now.