Iranian military chief: ‘Enemies’ using protests in Iraq, Lebanon to harm Iran

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Iran’s army chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said on Thursday that the “enemies” are looking to bring on “mercenary governments” in Iraq and Lebanon through anti-government protests in the two countries, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

“In recent days, the enemies have conspired in Iraq and Lebanon to exploit the rightful demands of the people and bring on mercenary governments, but the [Shia] clergy and the people foiled their plot,” said Bagheri.

“The enemies think that they can harm the Resistance Axis with these plots,” he added.

The “Resistance Axis” is the term Iran uses to describe its network of proxies, allies, and terrorist organizations in the region.

Iran sees anti-government movements in Iraq and Lebanon as a threat to its influence in the two countries. Iranian officials have repeatedly accused the US and Arab states of being behind the unrest in Lebanon and Iraq since the start of the protests.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei criticized the Iraqi and Lebanese protesters on October 30, saying that “those who care in Lebanon and Iraq” should focus on, and prioritize, improving security in the countries before anything else.

The protests in Iraq and Lebanon are fueled 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 armed groups in each country.

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

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