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A military strike on Iran could have the unintended consequence of stirring nationalist sentiment to the benefit of Tehran’s hard-line government, US General David Petraeus told Reuters.

“It’s possible (a strike) could be used to play to nationalist tendencies,” Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command region, which includes Iran, said in an interview this week.

“There is certainly a history, in other countries, of fairly autocratic regimes almost creating incidents that inflame nationalist sentiment. So that could be among the many different, second, third, or even fourth order effects (of a strike).”

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