Iraq’s unrest is plot to undo bilateral ties

Tehran, Oct 8 (AFP/APP):Since they erupted a week ago, deadly protests in Iraq have been tracked closely in Iran where they are seen as a plot to undermine ties between the neighbours.

Tehran has close but complicated relations with Baghdad, holding significant clout among its Shiite political groups.

The two countries fought a devastating war from 1980 to 1988 and Iran’s influence in Iraq grew after the US-led invasion toppled longtime dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

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Clashes that broke out in Iraq last week between protesters and security forces have claimed more than 100 lives, and wounded over 6,000 — most of them demonstrators struck by bullets.

The rallies began on Tuesday with calls to reduce corruption and unemployment but have spiralled into demands for the fall of the government and overhaul of the political system.

A string of Iranian officials have since come out with statements accusing their country’s arch-foes of being behind the unrest.

“Enemies seek to sow discord but they’ve failed & their conspiracy won’t be effective,” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, quoted on his office’s Twitter account.

“Iran and #Iraq are two nations whose hearts & souls are tied together… This bond will grow stronger day by day,” he added.

State news agency IRNA said the supreme leader was reacting to the violence in Iraq.

The official news agency weighed in with its own commentary, accusing the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel of stirring the Iraqi protests in order to spoil Iran’s ties with Iraq and Syria.

“Unprecedented protests in Iraqi cities… show that some forces inside and outside of the region are seriously concerned about the closeness and cooperation” of Baghdad, Tehran and Damascus, it added.

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