Iran says US blame over Iraq protests ‘astonishing’

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi blamed the unrest on US support for “groups which have spread and promoted violence and extremism.” (File/AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Iran says US blame over Iraq protests ‘astonishing’

TEHRAN: Iran described as “astonishing” Wednesday US accusations that its allies in Iraq were responsible for attacks on US diplomatic missions during deadly unrest last week centered on third city Basra.
Both the US consulate in Basra and its embassy in Baghdad came under attack but the offices of political parties and militias backed by Iran were the principal target of the unrest in Basra while the Iranian consulate in the city was burnt to the ground.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi blamed the unrest on US support for “groups which have spread and promoted violence and extremism.”
“The US government must be held accountable for its years of support for these groups,” Ghasemi told the semi-official ISNA news agency.
“America should know that by playing such clumsy blame games, it cannot cover up the consequences of its wrong, fruitless and destabilising policies in the region.
“Issuing such statements lacks credibility, and is astonishing, provocative and irresponsible.”
Ghasemi was responding to a statement by the White House on Tuesday, which criticized Iran for failing to prevent the violence, particularly the attacks on the US diplomatic missions.
“Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons,” the statement said.
The rare attack on the US embassy in Baghdad came on Friday when three mortar rounds were fired at the capital’s fortified Green Zone, though no casualties or damage was reported.
Bitter foes Iran and the United States are Iraq’s principal allies and have long vied for political influence.


Top Netanyahu challengers unite for Israeli elections

Updated 33 min 21 sec ago
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Top Netanyahu challengers unite for Israeli elections

  • Polls suggest together the two could surpass Netanyahu’s ruling Likud to become Israel’s largest faction
  • Elections will happen on April 9

JERUSALEM: Israel’s primary centrist challengers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have announced they are joining forces.
Ex-military chief Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, said early on Thursday they’ll present a joint list for the upcoming Israeli elections that “will constitute the new Israeli ruling party.” In a joint statement, the two said they were “motivated by national responsibility.”
A formal announcement is expected later.
Polls suggest together the two could surpass Netanyahu’s ruling Likud to become Israel’s largest faction after the April 9 vote.
Under their unity arrangement, the two agreed to a rotation leadership under which Gantz would first serve as prime minister and would be replaced by Lapid later. In contrast to Netanyahu, they say they will “heal the divide within Israeli society.”