U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has tweeted that the people of Iraq and Lebanon have a right to free themselves of Iranian “regime’s” influence.
He wrote on November 5, Iraqis and Lebanese are discovering “that Iranian regime’s top export is corruption, badly disguised as revolution.”
Large protests against economic hardship and corruption by the political elite have gripped the two countries for more than a month. However, in Iraq the protests have taken an overtly anti-Iran tone, while in Lebanon, Iran’s ally Hezbollah has tried to stave off demands for the resignation of the government.
Iran has worked hard for years to establish influence over the political dynamics in both countries which have substantial Shiite populations. Iraqis in particular resent Iran’s interference in their country, where Iran-allied armed militias have been accused to taking part in lethal attacks against protesters.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other officials have portrayed mass protests both in Iraq and Lebanon to “foreign intrigues”, and news agencies have reported the presence of top Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad to give “advice” to Iraqi security forces.