Out of all of Iraq’s neighbors, Iranian officials seek to give the impression that Iraq is an Iranian town. By doing so, they harm their own country’s interests and those of their friends or allies among the Iraqis.
Recent elections are a clear example of this fact. In February, former Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister and current advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said while visiting Iraq that the “Islamic Sahwa will not allow communists and liberals to return to governance”. This sparked anger in Iraq among different political, social and cultural groups. In recent elections, however, communists and liberals won some seats, unlike what Velayati had hoped for.
After the elections and before the final results were announced, the Quds Force commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Major General Qassem Soleimani went to Baghdad and met political leaders of specifically Shiite parties to discuss the formation of the next cabinet. This also sparked people’s outrage as seen on social media networks because the Iranian general’s agenda was seen as an interference in Iraq’s internal affairs by many.
After the results were announced and blocs that gained the largest number of seats in the new parliament began to work to agree on the new government, special international affairs assistant to the Shura Council Chairman Hossein Amir-Abdollahian decided to also interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs. In a Twitter post, he said that one of the results of the recent elections is saying “no” to occupation. He added that Iraq is not a stronghold “for the US and sponsors of terrorism. Iraq’s leaders and people will remain strong supporters of a prosperous, free and unified Iraq and a strategic ally of Tehran.”
This tweet violates the dignity of the Iraqi people and underestimates their awareness and patriotism as the Iranian official presented himself as a teacher of the Iraqis!
Interference in Iraq’s internal affairs
Iran definitely does not need these interferences in Iraq’s internal affairs because they do not serve its interests. Iraq and its people also do not need these interferences which increase hatred, or at least dissatisfaction against Iranian state and its officials.
Iranian officials must consider the results of the elections in which some of the most prominent exponents of political sectarianism, whether Sunni or Shiite, and masters of corruption and dependency on foreign powers lost. Iraqis voted to put their patriotism first and above all other loyalties. They held on to their national identity and gave up on other identities that contradict with their nationalism. Iraq has great interest in good neighborliness with Iran and vice versa. Therefore, frequent Iranian interferences are not in Iraq’s interest and are not even in Iran’s interest.
So who will inform the Iranian officials that Iraq is an ancient and independent state and it is not and it will never be Arak, the city and the country in southwest Tehran?
This article is also available in Arabic.
Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein