Iraq protests are 'real war' with U.S. - Khamenei IRGC representative

"There is a real war with America in Iraq. They want to prevent the Iraqi people from being similar to the Iranian revolutionists and to stop the PMF from defending its country."

By
October 7, 2019 20:11
2 minute read.
Protesters burn an armoured vehicle belonging to Iraqi rapid response force at a protest in Baghdad

Protesters burn an armoured vehicle belonging to Iraqi rapid response force at a protest in Baghdad. (photo credit: REUTERS/THAIER AL-SUDANI)

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) described a recent outbreak of protests in Iraq as a "real war" with the United States on Sunday, according to London-based Arbic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Abdullah Haji Sadeghi, Khamenei's IRGC representative, described the protests as an attempt by the US to eliminate the Iranian-backed Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia, and called for plans to be drafted to "foil the plots of the enemies" in Iraq.

"There is a real war with America in Iraq. They want to prevent the Iraqi people from being similar to the Iranian revolutionists and to stop the PMF from defending its country," said Sadeghi.

Multiple Iranian officials have blamed foreign influence for sparking the deadly protests throughout Iraq.

"Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective," tweeted Khamenei.

In contrast, Mahmoud Sadeqi, a member of the Iranian parliament, warned against viewing the protests in Iraq as a conspiracy on Sunday, according to Asharq Al Awsat, adding that the protests were sparked by the corruption and incompetence of Iraqi officials.

Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Kayhan newspaper that is linked Khamenei, encouraged Iraqis to take over the US embassy in Baghdad in a move similar to the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Shariatmadari called the US embassy an "espionage and conspiracy center against the oppressed Iraqi people."

Protests broke out throughout Iraq against the deterioration of living conditions and health services, government corruption, unemployment and Iranian interference in the country.

Some protestors have spoken out against Iran's influence in the country and the presence of Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias in the there. Some of the protesters have called on the government to resign.

Some protesters have claimed that Iranian forces were the ones firing on protesters, not Iraqi forces. A video being circulated on social media appears to show the Iraqi flag being raised over the Iranian embassy in Iraq during the protests. Additional videos showed protesters burning Iranian flags.

Over 100 people have been killed in the protests and hundreds more have been wounded as security forces fired on protestors. The Iraqi military acknowledged on Monday that excessive force had been used against protestors.

The protests sprang up soon after a top commander from Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service was decommissioned, in a move that may have been pushed for by the PMF.

Ghaleb al-Shabandar, a political commentator, described the move as "the beginning of the Iraqi army’s dismantling and handover to the Hashed and other armed groups."

PMF leader Faleh al-Fayyadh said on Monday that the militia would work to prevent "a coup d'etat or a rebellion," according to Radio Farda, adding the he wanted "the fall of corruption, not the fall of the regime."

"We know who stands behind these protests. The plan to bring down the regime has failed," said Fayyadh.

Last week, Khamenei urged IRGC commanders to expand their activities outside Iran's borders.

"We should not be satisfied with our region...We should not choose a small dwelling and then ignore the incidents and the threats that exist beyond the walls of this dwelling," said Khamenei, according to his official website.


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