Iran accuses US, Israel of stoking unrest in Lebanon and Iraq, as protests threaten its regional influence

Iran accuses US, Israel of stoking unrest in Lebanon and Iraq, as protests threaten its regional influence

Iran accused on Wednesday the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel of stoking unrest in Lebanon and Iraq.

“Our advice has always been to call for peace and (stopping) interference by foreign forces in these countries,” Rouhani’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted as saying by state media.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel were riding a wave of popular demands and providing those forces with financial support, he added.

Iraq – Crowd chants: “Iran, out, out! Baghdad will be free!”.

The protests in Iraq and Lebanon are fuelled by local grievances and mainly directed at political elites, but they also pose a challenge to Iran, which closely backs both governments as well as powerful terror groups in each country.

An increasingly violent crackdown in Iraq and an attack by Hezbollah supporters on the main protest camp in Beirut have raised fears of a backlash by Iran and its proxies.

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The day after anti-government protests erupted in Iraq, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who heads the Revolutionary Guards terror group, flew into Baghdad late at night and took a helicopter to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where he surprised a group of top security officials by chairing a meeting in place of the prime minister.

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“We in Iran know how to deal with protests,” Soleimani told the Iraqi officials, according to two senior officials familiar with the meeting. “This happened in Iran and we got it under control,” he added.