Iran's Quds Force commander visits Iraq 'to unify Shia parties': sources

Iran's Quds Force commander visits Iraq 'to unify Shia parties': sources
2 min read
18 January, 2022
Qaani's visit - the third since Iraq held parliamentary elections on 10 October - follows months of fruitless talks between pro-Iran parties, who fared badly in the election, and the Sadrist movement, the biggest winner in the vote.
Quds Force commander Esmail Qaani has now visited Iraq three times since the 10 October election [Getty]

Iran's Quds Force commander Esmail Qaani is in Iraq to smooth out tensions between Shia political groups and speed up the formation of a government after months of post-election squabbling, sources have told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

Qaani's visit - the third since Iraq held parliamentary elections on 10 October - follows months of fruitless talks between pro-Iran parties, who fared badly in the election, and the Sadrist movement, the vote's biggest winner.

The Iranian general arrived in Iraq on Sunday, and has held talks with Shia political groups in Najaf and Baghdad.

In Najaf, home to some Shia Islam's holiest sites, he met with figures from the Sadrist movement, which is led by Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr.

Qaani aimed to "push Sadr towards an alliance with the Coordination Framework" and "form a government that would bring the two parties together", political sources with knowledge of the talks told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. The Coalition Framework includes Iraq's biggest Shia political groups, including the pro-Iran Fatah coalition.

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Sadr has so far said he wants to form a "national majority government" that includes Sadrists, Kurds and Sunnis. Members of the Coordination Framework say this will exclude them from power.

It is not clear how long Qaani will remain in Iraq for, a senior member of the Fatah coalition told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The Iranian commander will also meet with Sunni and Kurdish political groups, another Coordination Framework member told the news outlet.

During the talks, Qaani passed on messages from Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, warning of  "the danger of the current division", and talking about "a Western conspiracy targeting political achievements" achieved in Iraq, senior political sources in Baghdad and Najaf told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

While in Najaf, Qaani visited the grave of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the late deputy commander of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Iranian state media reported.

Muhandis was killed alongside Qasem Soleimani, who was Quds Force commander before Qaani, in a US drone strike on Baghdad airport in January 2020.

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