Iraq News

Pompeo points to Iran in Mideast protests



An Iraqi demonstrator carries the national flag in the southern Iraqi holy city of Najaf on December 1st. [Haidar Hamdani/AFP]

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday (December 2nd) that Iran was the uniting factor behind protests around the Middle East, saying demonstrators in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran itself opposed the clerical regime.

While acknowledging diverse local reasons for the unrest that has swept the Middle East as well as other regions, Pompeo pointed the finger at Iran.

Iraqi premier Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned "because the people were demanding freedom and the security forces had killed dozens and dozens of people. That is due in large part to Iranian influence", Pompeo said.

"The same is true in Lebanon, the protests in Beirut," he said at the University of Louisville.

"They want Hizbullah and Iran out of their country, out of their system as a violent and a repressive force," he said.

He said that protests inside Iran -- which Amnesty International says have killed more than 200 people -- showed that Iranians were also "fed up".

"They see a theocracy that is stealing money, the ayatollahs stealing tens and tens of millions of dollars," he said.

In both Iraq and Lebanon, protestors have primarily called for an end to corruption, greater efforts to create jobs and a restructuring of the political system.

In Iraq, Abdul Mahdi stepped down last week following a wave of violence that pushed the protest toll to over 420 dead -- the vast majority demonstrators.

Protestors last week torched the Iranian consulate in Najaf.

In Lebanon, the US has been seeking to isolate Hizbullah, the pro-Iran militia that is also a political party with berths in the previous government.

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