Iran on Wednesday blamed recent mass protests that have caused unrest in Lebanon and Iraq on foreign interference, putting the blame specifically on Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The protests in Lebanon — which on Tuesday led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri — as well as in Iraq, which have crippled both countries, pose a challenge to Iran, which closely backs both governments as well as powerful armed groups in each country. An increasingly violent crackdown in Iraq and an attack by Hezbollah supporters on the main protest camp in Beirut have raised fears of a backlash by Iran and its allies.
“Our advice has always been to call for peace and (stopping) interference by foreign forces in these countries,” President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency, citing state media.
The report said Vaezi added that Jerusalem, Washington and Riyadh were “riding a wave of popular demands and providing those [foreign] forces with financial support.”
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had his own tirade against Israel in a series of tweets.
“The biggest damage enemies can inflict on a country is to deprive them of security, as they are doing today in some countries in the region,” he wrote. “I recommend those who care in Iraq and Lebanon remedy the insecurity and turmoil created in their countries by the US, the Zionist regime, some western countries, and the money of some reactionary countries.”
Khamenei went on to criticize Israel on matters unrelated to the protests.
“Who imagined the Zionist Regime — which couldn’t be defeated by three Arab countries in 6 days — would be forced to retreat by the devout youth during the 33-day Lebanon War and the 22-day Gaza War? Be sure that God surely fulfills His promises,” he wrote, appearing to be referring to the Six Day War in 1967, the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008, respectively.
Who imagined the Zionist Regime – which couldn’t be defeated by three Arab countries in 6 days – would be forced to retreat by the devout youth during the 33-day Lebanon War and the 22-day Gaza War?
Be sure that God surely fulfills His promises.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) October 30, 2019
He then referred to weekly protests and riots that have been held on Fridays on the Gaza border since March 2018. They have greatly subsided in recent months.
“The Great Return March will lead to the return of the Palestinians one day, and the true owners of the land will return to it,” Khamenei contended. “Despite their heavy expenses, the Arrogant Powers have been defeated so far. They admitted themselves that they spent $7,000 b. but didn’t gain anything!”