Iranian officials are eyeing the unrest in neighbouring Iraq with a mixture of alarm and vindication that Iraq's American occupiers are in trouble, unable to fulfil their plans for reshaping the Middle East. Their pleasure in America's discomfort has led to accusations they are supporting the uprising led by firebrand Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi laid the blame for Iraq's instability at the feet of the 'occupation forces'. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi on Wednesday called for a peaceful settlement to the crisis, urging restraint by the US military. 'It is a strategic mistake if the US thought it would deal with people with the same tactics' it used to topple Saddam Hussein, Mr Kharazi said. Tehran did not interfere in Washington's war plans and was pleased to see its old enemy, Hussein, ousted, but officials have condemned the occupation as part of Israel and America's imperial ambitions for the Middle East. Whenever violent unrest erupts in neighbouring Iraq or Afghanistan, Tehran's conservatives gloat. 'The military forces of the occupation have created a bloody mess,' screamed Monday's headline in the conservative daily Jomhouri Eslami. It has led to accusations that Iran is to blame for the Shi'ite uprising. Mr Sadr, the uprising's figurehead, hails from the same activist clerical tradition as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 revolution. 'We are not hostile to America but we are the enemy of occupation,' Mr Sadr said in February. 'I only want a government based on freedom and rule by the people. Obviously such a government will be Islamic.' During his first trip outside Iraq, Mr Sadr visited Iran, where he reportedly met high-level clerics. Conservatives point to this trip as evidence of Iran's support for Mr Sadr. The mullahs deny they had any role in stirring up an uprising among Iraq's Shi'ites. 'Iran doesn't want to see a turbulent atmosphere in Iraq,' said Abbas Maleki, a former deputy foreign minister. 'It doesn't help Iranian interests. 'If your neighbour's house is on fire, it means your home is also in danger.' Analysts also point out that every Iraqi leader who travels to Iran gets red carpet treatment as Tehran attempts to subtly curry favour and influence with new Baghdad's political players. 'Iran has had very close contact with all of the groups who opposed Saddam Hussein's regime,' Mr Maleki said. 'Iraqi Kurds, Sunnis, Arabs and Shi'ites all have had good relations with Iran.'