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Khamenei slams top officials as unrest spreads in SW Iran

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 3:38
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DEBKAfile was founded by a team of journalists in June 2000 as an independent Internet Web site, providing an intelligence and security news service. February 22, 2017, 12:12 PM (IDT)

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a rare public criticism of his country’s treatment of its Arab minority on Tuesday amid growing unrest in the Ahwaz area of Khuzestan province, where the majority of Iran’s oil fields are located. Khamenei said it was the direct duty of top regime officials to provide the basic needs of citizens, and that those officials should not blame their predecessors for the situation. A number of citizens have been killed in intensifying clashes in the city of Falahiyeh between local residents and paramilitary Basij forces sent to quell the unrest. Rioting was sparked by an increasing lack of critical infrastructure, water and electricity among the Arab residents of the southwestern province, especially in the Ahwaz area. On Tuesday, Iranian parliament spokesman Ali Larijiani, along with the country’s energy minister and oil minister, were scheduled to visit the province located on the Iraqi border as well as on the coast of the Persian Gulf. DEBKAfile’s military sources reported Monday that the regime had dispatched forces to Falahiyeh after the rioting erupted.

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