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Iraqi Officials ‘Cautious’ Amid Iran Protests

Iraqi Officials ‘Cautious’ Amid Iran Protests

Thursday, 4 January, 2018 - 09:00
Opponents of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hold a protest outside the Iranian embassy in west London, Britain December 31, 2017. Reuters

Despite Iraq's concerns about the protests in Iran, especially at the grassroots level, the government remained silent regarding what is happening in its eastern neighbor.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi did not mention Iran at all during his weekly conference on Wednesday, of which local observers described him as being "cautious" in dealing with such issues.

This "caution" by Iraqi officials may be the result of the complicated nature of the relationship between Baghdad and Tehran.

This relationship started with blatant hostility and war in the early 1980s which lasted for eight years, and it was followed by reaching the subsequent alliance between the two countries, which in some of its tracks was based on "sectarian factors and partisan interests" since Shiite parties in Iraq and Iran opposed to the rule of the late President Saddam Hussein.

Many political forces, however, support the ongoing popular protests in Iran and believe that the popular pressure on the Iranian government contributes to the decline in its influence, which it regards as harmful and does not serve the interests of Iraq.

The office of Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, who is also head of Islamic Dawa Party, issued a brief statement recounting what is happening in Iran as an "internal affair,” and another statement was issued by the Supreme Islamic Council.

The rest of the Shiite forces did not issue any stance on what is happening in Iran, and neither Kurdish nor Sunni forces have issued any sign of support or objection to the ongoing protests.

“What is going on in Iran is an internal issue,” Maliki told reporters on Wednesday. “Iran’s enemies are attempting to sow riot and confusion.”

He went on to call for calm in Iran, urging Tehran to take “appropriate measures in the interest of the Iranian people."

The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, for its part, which is led by Vice Speaker Hammam Hamoudi, expressed its full support for the Iranian government, saying that "the leadership, government and people of Iran will be able to confront and thwart the US-Zionist conspiracies."

"We condemn foreign political and media interventions in regional countries, especially by the United States, which represent a flagrant violation of international law and blatant public interference in the internal affairs of countries to implement their plans to dominate the region," it said in a statement.

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