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The Iranian regime has fostered sectarian violence to prevent the US from helping to build a stable and representative government in Iraq, US General George Casey, former commander multi-national force in Iraq has told a conference in Paris.

The Iranian regime used financial support to win influence in Iraq, then state-sponsored terrorism to accomplish its political goals, the General told the gathering of Iranians on June 27.

General George Casey, commander of multi-national force in Iraq from 2004 to 2007, said in a speech: "The regime's goals in Iraq were two-fold. One, that they wanted a friendly supportive Iraqi government in place.

Two, they wanted the United States government to fail in its efforts to help the Iraqis build a government that was fairly representative of all of the ethnic and sectarian groups in Iraq."

He said the regime used a three-pronged approach to gain its objectives, adding: "First they built political influence by financial contributions to Iraqi political parties and political leaders.

"Second, they built public support by economic contributions to communities, especially in the southern part of the country. Third, they fostered sectarian violence.

"By mid-2006, there was no question that the regime leadership was actively supporting terrorism inside Iraq to accomplish its political objectives. It was also crystal clear that they were playing a significant role in training and equipping Shia militias that had the effect of sustaining the sectarian struggle that went on there from 2006 to 2008. And lastly, because of that role they are directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of coalition forces and thousands of Iraqis."

General Casey said: "The Iranian regime will be destabilizing the region for some time to come, and that Iranian regime is not just a challenge for the people of Iran, for the people of Iraq, or for the region.

It’s a challenge for the international community, and there can only be one conclusion and you’ve heard it many, many times already today. That regime must go."

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