Iran's Revolutionary Guard Vows to Crush Anti-Government Protests

IRGC: 'Hard Punch' is coming

Protesters "must certainly know that improper behavior will be to their detriment, and the nation will come out and stand against these actions and throw a hard punch in their faces," the Revolutionary Guard’s commander for security in Tehran, Brigadier General Esmail Kowsari, said according to THE semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency late Saturday.

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps vowed to crush one of the biggest shows of dissent against the government in years, as days of confrontations between demonstrators and security forces turned deadly in a western province. Stocks fell.

The guard — whose mandate is to safeguard the Islamic Revolution — warned late Saturday that it would respond with “a hard punch” if demonstrations didn’t stop. Two protesters were killed in Dorud in the province of Lorestan late Saturday during clashes with security forces, Habibollah Khojastehpour, deputy for political affairs for the province of Lorestan, said in an interview posted on the website of Iran’s state broadcaster.

The protests, which began in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Thursday, present a serious challenge to President Hassan Rouhani and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Protesters first took aim at rising food prices and corruption, driven partly by a sense that the July 2015 nuclear deal hasn’t delivered the broad economic recovery many were expecting. By Friday, the dissent spread to other areas, and evolved into a wider condemnation of the clerical establishment and security forces.