Iran's influential Revolutionary Guard has said the week-long anti-government protests have been successfully put down by the country's security forces defeating what it called plots masterminded by foreign powers.

The elite forces, which wield enormous power in Iranian polity and affairs, said in a statement on Sunday, 7 January, that the latest upheaval was "broken down" by the security establishment comprising police personnel and intelligence agencies.

"Iran's revolutionary people along with tens of thousands of Basij forces, police, and the intelligence ministry have broken down the [chain of unrest] created... by the United States, Britain, the Zionist [Israel], Saudi Arabia, the hypocrites and monarchists," said the Revolutionary Guard in the statement carried by the quasi official Sepahnews site.

The comments come amid a closed-door session of the Iranian parliament with top security officials on Sunday, 7 January, called to discuss the recent wave of unrest. Iran has been witnessing the largest anti-government political gatherings since 2009.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guard, warned recently: "With the help of God, their defeat is definite."

On Sunday the police also said key plotters of the unrest have been arrested for allegedly violating warnings issued by the government and damaging public property. "The people and protesters who had rightful demands were separated in the minimum time possible from the organisers and those directing [the riots] and the violators were identified and arrested," said police spokesman, General Saeed Montazer-al-Mahdi. Their fate is now in the hands of the judiciary which will determine their punishment.

The rallies, which began over the failing economy and falling standards of living, gradually spiralled into a larger anti-government campaign with people demanding an end to alleged corruption in state-run institutions. The protests started in Iran's second-largest city of Mashhad on Thursday (28 December) and then spread to other major cities, including Tehran.

While images of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were brought down by angry protesters, campaigners were heard chanting slogans such as "death to dictator" and "death to Khamenei" — in the country which has so far been only accustomed to chants like "death to America" and "death to Israel" in public gatherings.

Iran protests
People protest in Tehran, Iran on December 30, 2017 in this still image from a video obtained by Reuters Reuters via third party