Iran's Khamenei Blames Israel And the US For Antigovernment Protests
Plus: OPEC to slash oil production, cholera in Lebanon, Erdogan and Putin discuss improving ties, and more.
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Iran's Khamenei blames Israel And The United States in first comments on protests
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blamed the United States and Israel for protests that have gripped the country for more than two weeks, accusing the countries of trying to stop Iran's "progress."
The 83-year-old leader had remained silent on the protests, which erupted after a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, died last month in the custody of Iran's morality police.
"I say explicitly that these riots and this insecurity were a design by the US and the occupying, fake Zionist regime [Israel] and those who are paid by them, and some traitorous Iranians abroad helped them," Khamenei told graduating cadets at a police university in Tehran on Monday, October 3.
In his speech, Khamenei alluded to unrest among Iran's ethnic Kurdish and Baluch populations but argued that Iran would not be divided along ethnic lines.
An Iranian coroner's report denied Mahsa Amini had died due to blows to the head and limbs while in the custody of Iran's morality police and linked her death to pre-existing medical conditions. However, her father has said she suffered bruises to her legs and has held the police responsible for her death.
Iranian authorities have denied reports security forces killed a 16-year-old girl during protests ignited by the death of a woman in police custody. Social media reports and rights group Amnesty International have said Sarina Esmaeilzadeh was killed by security forces when she was struck with batons on the head during protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody. But authorities earlier this week gave a similar cause of death - falling off a roof - for 17-year-old Nika Shakarami, who activists say was killed in Tehran while demonstrating over Amini's death.
Rights groups say more than 150 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured, and thousands arrested in a crackdown on nationwide protests marking the biggest challenge to Iran's clerical leadership in years.
OPEC, allies move to slash oil production, eliciting blistering White House response
A coalition of oil-producing nations led by Russia and Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday, October 5.
It will slash oil production by 2 million barrels per day, in a rebuke to President Biden that could push up gas prices worldwide, worsen the risk of a global recession and bolster Russia in its war in Ukraine.
The cut to production amplifies geopolitical tensions at a precarious moment for the world's major powers.
Biden administration officials had launched an extraordinary effort to press Saudi Arabia to produce more oil to compensate for the global shortage caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the president personally visiting Saudi leaders in a trip to Jiddah.
With this move, Saudi Arabia has rejected those entreaties at least in part, leaving senior White House officials contemplating their next steps and publicly hinting at unprecedented measures to undercut the gulf nation's grip on international energy markets.
Russia will benefit from the cut because lower production will increase oil price — helping Moscow finance its war effort in Ukraine.
The OPEC Plus coalition, led by crude-oil giant Saudi Arabia, said the production cut would take effect in November. OPEC Plus said the move was necessary to stabilize the recent fall in global energy prices.
Lebanon inspecting new suspected cases of cholera
Lebanon's health minister said on Friday, October 7, that authorities are inspecting suspected cases of cholera, less than a day after the cash-strapped country confirmed its first case of the illness since 1993.
The news came almost a month after an illness outbreak in neighboring war-torn Syria.
Firas Abiad, Lebanon's caretaker health minister, said in a press conference that the first case was a middle-aged Syrian refugee man living in the impoverished northern province of Akkar and confirmed the second case in the area.
"There are several other suspected cases," Abiad said. "Cholera is an illness that is easily transmissible."
According to the WHO, a cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholera bacteria.
While most cases are mild to moderate, not treating the illness could lead to death.
About 1 million Syrian refugees who fled their country's civil war reside in neighboring Lebanon. Most live in extreme poverty in tented settlements or in overcrowded apartments.
Poverty has also deepened for many Lebanese, with many families often rationing water, unable to afford private water tanks for drinking and domestic use.
The health minister said Lebanon has secured the necessary equipment and medicines to treat patients.
Erdogan and Putin discuss improving ties, ending Ukraine war
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about improving bilateral ties, and he repeated Ankara's willingness to do its part to resolve the war in Ukraine peacefully.
NATO member Turkey has close relations with both Ukraine and Russia and has sought to balance ties during the war, rejecting Western sanctions on Moscow while criticizing the Russian invasion and supplying Kyiv with armed drones.
Along with the United Nations, Turkey brokered the July deal to unlock Ukrainian grain exports from its Black Sea ports in what remains the only significant diplomatic breakthrough in the seven-month-old conflict.
Rockets hit Baghdad for the second day as Iraq unrest escalates
Rockets have landed in Baghdad's Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign missions, for the second day in a row, breaking weeks of calm.
No one has claimed responsibility for the four missiles fired from the east of the capital on Thursday, October 6, and there were no reported casualties, local police officers said.
On Wednesday, October 5, supporters of Iraq's influential Shia religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr attempted to storm the Green Zone as the Iraqi parliament held a session on the resignation of its speaker. They tried to advance past security forces guarding the parliament but were confronted by riot police.
Iraqi state media also reported on Wednesday afternoon that three Katyusha rockets had fallen on the Green Zone.
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My name is Dario Sabaghi, a freelance journalist. I am interested in human rights and international news focusing on the MENA region.
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Cover photo: Al-Jazeera/Khamenei.IR/AFP