The head of Iran’s Quds Force Esmail Ghaani arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday as part of an Iranian delegation after receiving an entry visa from Iraq, according to reports.
Ghaani accompanied an Iranian delegation to Baghdad on Wednesday in his second visit to Iraq since succeeding slain general Qassem Soleimani.
A delegation headed by Iran’s energy minister Reza Ardakanian met with Iraqi officials on Wednesday to discuss cooperation between the two countries in the electricity sector, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
While Mehr did not mention Ghaani, some Iraqi media outlets reported that he was part of the delegation visiting Baghdad on Wednesday.
If true, this is Ghaani’s second visit to Iraq since succeeding Soleimani and his first since Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as prime minister in May.
Ghaani was allowed entry after obtaining a visa from the Iraqi foreign ministry, Iraqi news website Baghdad Today reported citing sources. This is due to al-Kadhimi’s “insistence” that all foreign military and political officials arrive in Iraq as part of formal delegations, the sources said.
Ghaani’s predecessor Soleimani visited Iraq frequently without having his movement regulated in the country.
Soleimani, along with Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed January 3 in a Washington-directed airstrike outside Baghdad airport.
Ghaani also reportedly met with the leader of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) militia group Abu Fadak al-Mohammadawi.
Many doubt Ghaani can have the same level of influence in Iraq as Soleimani, given his poor command of Arabic and lack of personal relationships with key officials.
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