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Iran accuses U.S., Britain of fueling unrest

Mon., Aug. 15, 2005

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran accused the United States and Britain on Sunday of stoking the unrest that has broken out among its Kurdish and Arab minorities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi offered little evidence for his allegations, but he suggested that Washington and London were giving encouragement to Arabs and Kurds who have rioted in western and northwestern Iran.

“This is not acceptable at all,” Asefi told a news conference.

Asefi said the United States is “stuck” in Iraq and is trying to divert attention from its plight by sowing unrest across the border.

Under U.S. protection, Iraq’s Kurds have enjoyed autonomy and a booming economy, fueled partly by trade with Iran. Iraq’s ascendant Kurds engage in contacts – including lucrative exports of illegal liquor and other goods – with their kin across the border.

On Thursday, Human Rights watch said at least 17 people had been killed and hundreds more injured and arrested in anti-government protests in Iran’s Kurdish northwest.

The New York-based rights group blamed the killings on Iranian security forces and said their indiscriminate shooting had also wounded hundreds of people.

Asefi also said April riots in Iran’s western Khuzestan province that left at least one protester dead were encouraged by the British presence in Iraq. Khuzestan borders southern Iraq, where security is under the control of British troops in the multinational force.

“Some provocateurs were trained in a part of Iraq which is under control of Britain,” Asefi said. “We have made objections and warned Britain about the repercussions of such behavior.”In Kurdistan, the unrest rocked several towns over the past month.


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