IRAN’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and Basij paramilitary forces have not yet directly intervened in protests across the country, in which as many as 30 people have died, amid fears that such a move would backfire and antagonise protesters, according to sources within the Iranian regime.

However, a confidential report from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s international affairs adviser Ali Akbar Velayati and seen by The National said their direct intervention would come should a “red alert” be declared.

In his report, for a gathering of politicians and armed forces chiefs, Velayati said the situation was “extremely critical” and the regime was facing “serious threats”.

“Uprisings this year is different from the ones in previous years as people suffer from impoverishment,” he said.

“The economic problems have plagued every sector of society and this threatens the regime’s security. The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation.”

Demonstrations against rising food prices and inflation — at 10 per cent — and corruption started on Thursday in Mashhad and quickly expanded to several cities, with some of the thousands of protesters chanting against the government and Khamenei.

Hundreds of people have been arrested and a prominent judge has warned that some could face the death penalty.

Velayati said the leadership had to deflect the blame for the economic situation and deny calls for a change of regime.

“We have to pretend as though we are sympathising with protesters over the economic issues and try to pretend that all shortcomings are directed at [Hassan] Rouhani’s government,” he said.

“The leadership (Khamenei) must make a stand and declare that people’s discontent is due to the government’s incompetence to deal with people’s basic needs but reject anti-regime protests and activities of the [People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran] PMOI/MEK and the call for regime change.”

He added: “Religious leaders and the leadership (Khamenei) must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation for deteriorating further.

“It is now time for the religious leaders in Qom to make a stance. God help us, this is a very complex situation and it is different from previous occasions.”

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) — the country’s opposition in exile — said 30 people had died so far in the demonstrations and more than 1000 had been arrested.

Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, said the mullahs’ regime had no future.

“Yesterday Mashhad, today Kermanshah, and tomorrow throughout Iran; this uprising has tolled the death knell for the overthrow of the totally corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs, and is the rise of democracy, justice and popular sovereignty,” she said.

“The corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs will undoubtedly fail against your national unity and solidarity, resistance and continuity of your rightful uprisings.

“While the overwhelming majority of the people of Iran are suffering from poverty, inflation and unemployment, most of the country’s wealth and revenues is spent on military and security apparatuses and military and regional interventions, or is being looted by the regime leaders or goes into their bank accounts.

“Therefore, so long as this regime is in power, the economic and livelihood conditions of the people become worse and the only solution to get rid of economic and social problems is to overthrow the clerical regime.”

In a post on his official website, Khamenei appeared to blame foreign nations for exacerbating the unrest.

“In the recent days’ incidents, enemies of Iran utilised various means — including money, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatuses — to create problems for the Islamic system,” he said.

Iranian leaders often accuse Britain, the US and Israel of seeking to overthrow the clerical regime.

State television reported that six people were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan in clashes sparked by rioters who had tried to steal guns from the station.

TV reports also said an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in Khomeini Shahr, while a member of the IRGC was killed in Najafabad.

Mousa Ghazanfarabadi, the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, reportedly warned yesterday that arrested protesters could face the death penalty when they are put on trial.

“Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God and the state, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying. Moharebeh is punishable by death in Iran.