**NOTE: Eye On Iran media monitoring will be suspended on Wednesday, November 27 in observance of Thanksgiving. It will resume Monday, December 2.**
The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard threatened the U.S. and its allies Monday as he addressed a pro-government demonstration attended by tens of thousands of people denouncing last week's violent protests over a fuel price hike. Gen. Hossein Salami, echoing other Iranian officials, accused the U.S., Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia of stoking the unrest. He said the rise in gasoline prices was a "mere pretext" for an attack on the nation. "If you cross our red line, we will destroy you," he said. "We will not leave any move unanswered."
More than 10 days after Iranians took to the streets in protest to a sudden gasoline price hike, the Iranian government is still overwhelmed by the aftereffects of the unrest and its violent suppression by security forces. In the meantime, fresh videos of the violent suppression have been uploaded on social media following partial restoration of internet service which has been cut off for about a week to conceal use of lethal force by security forces from the watchful eyes of international human rights organizations and world media.
Iranian officials looking to hit back at the U.S. over crippling economic sanctions and its withdrawal from a nuclear deal initially considered attacking American bases before launching airstrikes on a massive Saudi Arabian oil facility instead, a new report claims. The decision to target the facility owned by Saudi Arabia's Aramco state-run oil company on Sept. 14 came after top Iranian military officials huddled for a series of meetings in Tehran - one of which was attended by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ultimately signed off on the attack, officials familiar with the discussions told Reuters.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The Speaker of Iranian Parliament (Majles) Ali Larijani says some Iranian government companies have increased the price of their products and other reports say prices have sharply risen across the board. Following a 200 percent state-imposed rise in the price of gasoline on November 15, the Iranian government had promised not to increase the price of other commodities and to control prices even in the private sector to prevent further pressure on the people.
The Iranian government has decided to eliminate its budgetary reliance on oil sales for the fiscal year beginning in March 2020. The administration kickstarted the policy by reducing gasoline subsidies on Nov. 16. This measure is meant to ease budgetary pressures caused by the US maximum pressure campaign on the country's economy, in addition to helping lower-income groups by increasing their cash subsidies. However, the recent protests across the country proved implementing the policy won't be easy.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Thousands of Iranians staged pro-establishment rallies in Tehran and other cities in a show of support after the country's leaders suppressed nationwide protests that erupted this month over a sudden hike in gasoline prices. Monday's marches followed a week of violence against protesters and an internet blackout aimed at halting demonstrations. Authorities began to ease internet restrictions this weekend as protests subsided. At least 143 protesters were killed in clashes with security forces, according to Amnesty International.
As the internet slowly flickers back on across Iran, videos of violent clashes between protesters and security forces are bursting into the public eye. In the days following a fuel price hike on November 15, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the decision. The 50 percent increase in fuel prices, which historically were highly subsidized, came without warning. Two days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the country faced a deficit that amounted to nearly two-thirds of the yearly $45 billion budget, Iranian state television broadcast his decision to increase gas prices for nearly 60 million Iranians.
Amnesty International said Monday that the toll of protesters killed by the Iranian security forces has reached at least 143 since demonstrations broke out on November 15. The deaths have resulted almost entirely from the intentional use of firearms by the security forces - though one man was reported to have died after inhaling tear gas and another after being beaten, said the London-based human rights group. The death toll could be significantly higher, it added.
After Iranian cities were rocked by protests over the fuel subsidy cut, information out of the country has been scarce due to a nationwide internet shut-down. Government officials have been quiet - aside from making vague statements praising themselves for suppressing the protests - and have not shared many details of the number of deaths or arrests. According to Amnesty International, there have been 143 deaths from the protests that began Nov. 15 after the administration of President Hassan Rouhani announced the fuel subsidy cut.
Authorities in Iran have announced the arrest of 34 more protesters in three different cities, claiming some of them were local protest leaders or elements who attacked public buildings. The police commander in Fars Province said 15 protesters were arrested in Shiraz, capital of the province and labeled them "main perpetrators of destruction and arson". In Lorestan Province, the police commander announced the detention 17 people on Sunday and said they were "main elements" inciting disturbances and were identified "in a short period of time".
Most of the people who participated in the recent anti-regime demonstrations in Iran were either unemployed or with low-income jobs, several members of parliament (Majles) have cited a report by the Islamic Republic Intelligence Ministry. The powerful Commission for National Security Affairs and Foreign Policy of Majles held a closed-door session on Monday, November 25, attended by the representatives of the Islamic Republic intelligence entities.
As Iranian diaspora members rally around the world in solidarity with recent anti-government protests in Iran, they are getting a boost from another diaspora that sees Tehran as a threat - Canadian Jews. Hundreds of Iranian exiles have staged solidarity rallies in dozens of cities in North America, Europe and Australia since the demonstrations erupted across Iran on Nov. 15. In one notable rally, Iranian diaspora activists in Canada's largest city, Toronto, co-organized their gathering with B'nai Brith Canada, a 144-year-old Canadian Jewish human rights group that strongly supports Iran's main regional foe, Israel.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran on Monday rejected a U.S. court order for a Washington Post reporter to be paid $180 million in damages for Tehran jailing him on espionage charges. Jason Rezaian spent 544 days in an Iranian prison before he was released in January 2016 in exchange for seven Iranians held in the United States. On Friday, a U.S. district court judge ordered damages be paid to Rezaian and his family in compensation for pain and suffering as well as economic losses.
Having played his aces too early on Iran's nuclear program, President Donald Trump now has only a weak hand against a new threat from the Islamic Republic. The Pentagon is warning that the regime will buy advanced conventional weapons - like tanks and jet fighters - toward the end of next year, when a United Nations embargo ends. In a compromise linked to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers, the UN agreed that starting in October 2020, the regime could purchase arms it doesn't produce.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran will destroy the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia if they cross Tehran's red lines, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami said in a televised speech on Monday. "We have shown restraint ... we have shown patience towards the hostile moves of America, the Zionist regime (Israel) and Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic of Iran ... but we will destroy them if they cross our red lines," said Hossein Salami.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The recent attack by Israel Air Force (IAF) warplanes against Iranian and Syrian sites in Syria was very massive, one of the largest strikes in the last three years. The wide-scale strikes occurred in the early hours of Wednesday, November 19. Israeli security officials said that 16 targets of the al-Quds Force and its affiliated Shi'ite militia were hit, including warehouses and missiles near Damascus International Airport, as well as in southern Syria and in other parts of the country.
Israel has hosted a series of senior defense officials in recent weeks, climaxing in Sunday's visit by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, who was hosted by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. Both countries took care to stress that ties between their respective defense establishments are particularly close. But two other considerations that aren't talked about publicly are also apparently motivating this aerial convoy of senior American officials.
Protesters remained defiant on Monday after supporters of main Shia groups Hezbollah and Amal attacked demonstrators overnight, sparking a UN call to keep protests peaceful. Demonstrators demanding a complete government overhaul have been mobilised since protests began on October 17, but a bitterly divided political class has yet to find a way forward.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Reuters revealed on Monday new details over Iran's involvement in the attack against Saudi Aramco oil facilities in September. Four months before a swarm of drones and missiles crippled the world's biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, Iranian security officials gathered at a heavily fortified compound in Tehran. The group included the top echelons of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite branch of the Iranian military whose portfolio includes missile development and covert operations.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
After arriving in Tehran earlier this month, Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, met with the Iranian civil and military hierarchy to extend the scope of bilateral relations and consolidate security arrangements. Since Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office in August 2018, there has been special focus on renewing trust and upgrading relations with close allies. Furthering Khan's peace efforts in the region, Bajwa is also pursuing military diplomacy and this was his second visit this year to Iran.