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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran authorities need common policy to quell protests - expert

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) - Iranian authorities need to determine whether to retort to more repressive measures or to democratic methods in order to bring opposition protests back under control, a Russian expert said.

Security forces in Iran clashed with opposition protesters on Saturday and Sunday. A total of 15 people died and over 300 demonstrators were arrested. Iranian police used tear gas to disperse protestors and were also reported to have fired shots into the air. Several police officers were injured.

"I believe that the situation is escalating as the authorities have no common policy on how to cope with it," Nina Mamedova, head of the Iran department at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Oriental Studies, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

She added that the authorities had to choose between "repressive" or "democratic" measures.

Mamedova said that the clashes over the weekend would force the Iranian authorities to make a final decision on "whether to admit their own mistakes and begin negotiating with the opposition or to step up repression."

The opposition supporters gathered in an apparent attempt to revive anti-government demonstrations that followed presidential elections in June when the opposition, led by defeated candidate Mousavi, claimed the polls had been rigged in favor of Iran's hard-line leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mamedova added said that "a compromise is always a possibility" and the authorities should only start negotiating with the opposition to reach it.

"I believe that once the authorities begin changing their stance on definite foreign policy issues than the opposition and political movements will possibly calm down," she added.

The clashes on Sunday came as the country marks Ashura, a 10-day period of religious ceremonies which commemorate the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Mohammed who was killed and beheaded in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD by the armies of the Sunni caliph Yazid.

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