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Iran Hardliner Says Iraq's Protest To Undermine Massive Iranian Pilgrimage

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (L) talks to Ebrahim Raeesi, the head of the judiciary in Tehran, March 7, 2019. File photo

Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi) has called the ongoing unrest in Iraq "A U.S.-Saudi sedition" and charged that they are aimed at overshadowing the massive Iranian pilgrimage for Arbaeen, the anniversary of the 40th day of Imam Hussain's martyrdom.

Meanwhile, the hardliner judge likened the Iraqi protests to unemployment, corruption and government inefficiency to the September 2018 demonstrations in Mashhad during which Iranians in that city accused Iraqi pilgrims of taking advantage of Iranian women.

He said both the Iranian and Iraqi protests were aimed at sowing discord between Iranians and Iraqis.

The protests in Iraq are rather similar to the widespread riots against corruption, unemployment and government's inefficiency in Iran in late 2017. The Iranian protests, the largest of their kind in 40 years had started from Mashhad. Ironically, officials and media close to the Rouhani administration blamed hardliners in Mashhad, including Raeesi and his father-in-law Ahmad Alamolhoda, the city's Friday Prayer Imam for instigating the riots.

Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office also attributed the Iraqi protests to what it called "the enemies" in a tweet posted on Monday October 7.

Iranian officials including Raeesi and Khamenei's military adviser Rahim Safavi have talked about undermining the Arbaeen pilgrimage by Iranians as the root cause of the Iraqi protests, while other Iranian officials in the past had called the pilgrimage "an exercise of Iran's power" and predicted that 3 million Iranians will visit Iraq for the occasion.