Baghdad (AFP) – Deadly protests in Iraq have exposed a rift within the country’s Shiite political factions benefiting hardliners ready to embrace authoritarianism, experts say.

Many Shiite leaders, particularly in pro-Iran armed groups, believe the anti-government unrest was the product of “foreign conspiracies”, said Renad Mansour, a researcher at the Chatham House think-tank.

Iran itself said the protests were a conspiracy aimed at weakening its ties with neighbouring Iraq, which have grown stronger since the US-led invasion toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

For Mansour, the protests revealed…

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