Iraq’s prime minister to visit Iran

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is expected to arrive in Tehran today for an official state visit. The premier’s trip

Iran NazaninTabatabaeeWANAWest Asia News AgencyviaREUTERS

Photo: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA via REUTERS

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is expected to arrive in Tehran today for an official state visit.

The premier’s trip comes after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif paid a visit to Baghdad last week to discuss bilateral military and economic relations with Iraqi officials. Zarif’s trip was the first since the assassination of top Iranian General Qassim Soleimani outside of Baghdad’s international airport in January.

Tensions between Baghdad and Tehran remain strained as the former continues to endure attacks by Iran-backed militia groups against Iraqi security forces and US troops deployed throughout the country. In late June, government forces raided the headquarters of one such group, Kataib Hezbolllah, after a series of rocket and mortar attacks targeted US installations within Iraqi borders; most of the captured fighters were subsequently released.

The Iraqi government’s failure to take a stronger stance on Iranian interference—largely due to friendly sectarian relations with Tehran and Iraq’s heavy dependency on Iran for its gas and electricity imports—has hindered the stabilisation of a country struggling from months of social and political unrest, a decline in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. While al-Kadhimi continues to emphasise the importance of establishing a sovereign, elected authority in Iraq, his efforts to cooperate with Iran on military and economic issues—while taking a tempered approach to Tehran’s armed influence campaign—are counterproductive and will likely result in prolonged domestic destabilisation as Iranian militia groups continue to go about unchecked.

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