The unrest comes as millions of pilgrims are preparing to travel to the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to attend Arbaeen marking the fortieth day after the martyrdom of their third Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (AS).
On Friday, a senior Iranian cleric said the United States and Israel are stoking unrest in Iraq to disrupt the Arba’een pilgrimage.
“The enemy is now determined against the Islamic nation. America and Zionism … are targeting Arba’een and Iraq, and causing trouble because it is hard for them to accept the presence of millions (of pilgrims) in Karbala”Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani said in a sermon in Tehran.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday urged all pilgrims from the country to postpone their visit to Iraq until calm is restored.
“Stressing the importance of the great march of Arba’een and the necessity of holding this magnificent congregation, the Foreign Ministry calls on the Iranian faithful … to postpone their visit to Iraq until calm is restored to the country, and to pay close attention to the warnings of political and security officials,” the statement said.
Iran, it said, is confident the Iraqi government and nation will work with all groups, parties and personalities, especially the top clerics and other religious authorities and political leaders to calm the current tense situation.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is confident that the Iraqi nation and government will not allow the continuation of certain moves that are to the detriment of the Iraqi people and will not let the foreigners take advantage of the situation,” the statement added.