Iranian FM ‘maneuvers’ in Iraq as rivalry with US heats up

Al-Monitor – “Zarif maneuvering in Baghdad.” That’s how pro-Reform daily Etemad described a four-day visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to neighboring Iraq. The top Iranian diplomat, accompanied by a large delegation comprising over 100 business leaders, attended a conference in Baghdad with their Iraqi counterparts to discuss trade. The Iranian foreign minister gave assurances to the participants that US sanctions will not affect bilateral business.

But not everything was about the economy. “No country should consider its own security dependent from its neighbors,” he said, as he praised mutual cooperation in the fight against terror. “The blood of young Iranian and Iraqi men has been mixed during the battle against terrorism, creating deep bonds between the two nations, which no power can break.”

The top Iranian diplomat met with an array of senior Iraqi figures ranging from President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi, to party leaders Ammar Hakim and Ayad Allawi as well as Popular Mobilization Units commander Hadi al-Ameri.

At home, the visit has been largely welcomed by different political camps. According to Reformist daily Iran, which represents the official views of President Hassan Rouhani’s government, the trip “should have been made much earlier, especially given the critical time in the region and the US efforts to build new alliances there.”

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