Senior clerics warn of plot to create strife in Iraq, Lebanon

Senior clerics warn of plot to create strife in Iraq, Lebanon

Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani andTehran’s Friday prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani has expressed support for reforms in Iraq and Lebanon amid popular protests in the two countries, but warned of hostile elements seeking to destabilize the countries.

"The people of Iraq and Lebanon should value the importance of security and stability and be vigilant against an enemy plot seeking to create strife among different factions and tribes," the cleric said during weekly Friday prayers in the Iranian capital.

The remarks echoed statements made by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei earlier this week.

The Leader warned that the US and Western spy services, with the financial help of the reactionary Arab regimes, are seeking to instigate "dangerous hostilities" in Iraq and Lebanon despite their people's "legitimate demands". 

Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani highlighted how foreign influence and corruption has led to major grievances in the two countries.

"The United States has been looting one million barrels of Iraqi oil on a daily basis on the pretext of receiving compensation for war," he said, adding Washington is apparently openly encouraging violence.

Highlighting how Iraq's troubles are rooted in US interference in the country, the cleric noted that the "virtuous people of Iraq know how and are able to achieve true reforms under the framework of the legitimate government, law and the guidance of their religious sources to follow."

Speaking about recent protests in Lebanon, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani said ignoring the people's economic needs was one of the main roots of the country's woes.

The cleric said the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has significantly raised Lebanon's debt by accepting foreign loans despite failing to make positive changes in the lives of the Lebanese.

"Managing the economic needs of the Lebanese people requires 15 billion dollars annually, this is while different governments have raised Lebanon's debt to 120 billion dollars due to their incompetence," he said.

"The annual interest that has to be paid now exceeds the government's yearly earning," Ayatollah Movahei Kermani added.

The protests in Lebanon are an opportunity for the government to push with reforms, the Iranian cleric said.

"The resignation of Hariri, however, showed that certain political factions have preferred the interests of the United States, Israel and some Arab governments over the interests of the people," he said.

According to Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani, hostile elements seek to weaken Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement by sowing domestic strife.

Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has urged the end of bloodshed in the Arab country, warning of a civil war and chaos after dozens of deaths during the recent wave of protest rallies across Iraq.

In a statement on Friday, Ayatollah Sistani expressed regret over the continued clashes between demonstrators and security forces, which have resulted in the deaths and injuries of many innocent people from both sides and damages to public and private properties.

“The innocent blood shed during the past few weeks is very valuable to us, and measures must be taken to prevent further bloodshed,” the top cleric said.

“The country must be kept from slipping toward the edge of the precipice of a civil war, chaos, and destruction,” Ayatollah Sistani urged.

This is only possible if all parties join hands to resolve the current crisis in the country with good faith, he added.

The top cleric once again condemned any assault on the peaceful protesters and any unjustifiable violence, calling for investigation into those who use violence.

Ayatollah Sistani also warned any individuals and groups inside Iraq as well as regional and world countries against attempting to exploit the Iraqi people’s protests.

Hashd al-Shaabi says won’t interfere in rallies

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, also known as Hashd al-Sha'abi, announced that it will support the legitimate demands of protesters without interfering in the country’s political situation.

In a statement on Thursday, the PMU stressed that it is not going to meddle in the public demonstrations as it is a force tasked with ensuring the security and integrity of Iraq and defending the country against terrorism.

The statement further dismissed rumors circulating on social media against Hashd al-Sha'abi, the latest of which was about the deployment of military vehicles from the house of PMU commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad’s Jadriyah neighborhood.

Muhandis, it said, has no base or house in Jadriyah and his office is the Hashd al-Sha'abi headquarters in the Green Zone of Baghdad.

The PMU played a decisive role in Iraq’s uphill 2014-2017 battle against the Daesh terrorist group. The Iraqi parliament on November 26, 2016 approved a law giving full legal status to Hashd al-Sha'abi fighters.

The ongoing demonstrations in Iraq follow a previous bout of anti-government protests in early October over corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services.

More than 200 have been killed and thousands of others wounded since the protests erupted, with security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets against those taking to the streets.

As part of efforts to meet the anti-corruption demands, the Iraqi Supreme Anti-Corruption Council announced on Friday that it has issued arrest warrants for a minister, a provincial council chief, five lawmakers, two former ministers, and 60 local officials for corruption.

Also in Thursday remarks, Iraqi President Barham Salih said the country’s embattled Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi is ready to step down if a replacement is found, emphasizing that a snap parliamentary election will be held once a new electoral law is passed.

Early elections cannot be held until a new electoral law is passed, Salih said, adding that he expected a bill to be introduced in parliament by next week.

It took more than six months of negotiations before Abdul-Mahdi was appointed a year ago, and finding a successor all the political factions can agree to will not be easy.

Read more: 

Leader says US, West spy services inciting unrest in regional states

Send To Friend