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Ghaani Stumbles in Uniting Iraq Allies with Iran

Ghaani Stumbles in Uniting Iraq Allies with Iran

Friday, 3 April, 2020 - 07:45
Iranian Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani. (AP)

Despite his busy schedule of meetings with Iraq’s various Shiite leaderships over the past two days, Iranian Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani failed to unite their ranks as the country remains deadlocked over the formation of a new government.

Ghaani had arrived in Baghdad this week to try and unify Iraq’s fractured political leaders as stiff opposition by the Hikma movement thwarts chances the country’s latest prime minister-designate, Adnan al-Zurfi, can form a government.

Ghaani made his first trip to Baghdad since his appointment, succeeding Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US air strike in Iraq in January.

Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi called on Hikma leader, Ammar al-Hakim to end the crisis, urging him to take into consideration the health and economic situation in the country. After a meeting with Hakim, the speaker stressed the need for parliament to play its role in confronting the economic crisis sparked by a drop in oil prices.

Shiite forces remain divided over Zurfi’s appointment, but that has not stopped him from acting as if his designation had been approved. He has held almost daily meetings with officials, the latest was with Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari on Thursday. An Iranian diplomat revealed that he had also met “indirectly” with Ghaani.

On whether Ghaani had made progress with the Shiite parties, political commentator, Ihsan al-Shammari told Asharq Al-Awsat that he made a “major breakthrough”, but only with their leaderships.

Sharp divisions remain between these leaderships and their parliamentary contingents, he explained.

Ghaani’s visit confirms “without a doubt” that Iraq still remains a priority for Tehran, which is still banking on the possibility of uniting Shiite ranks, he continued. Soleimani had attempted to unite them through a document that was signed at Hakim’s residence last year, but the agreement soon collapsed due to the protests that erupted in October.

Ghaani tried to bring together the Shiite leaderships, but he was met with resistance from the second- and even third-tier Shiite politicians, especially in parliament, said the analyst. These officials cannot be directed to serve Iran’s interests, because they have developed a “sense of independence” that no longer wants to remain under Tehran’s hegemony.

“Iran is now confronted with major challenges in Iraq,” he noted, most notably the growing desire to escape its dictates.

Ghaani has apparently failed on this front, he remarked.

The Quds Force commander was seeking to restore Iran’s influence in forming governments in Iraq, which is another arena for the American-Iranian clash in the country. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards believes that Washington is now the major player in forming the next government and is therefore, seeking to score more points, but is stumbling with the coronavirus outbreak and Iraq’s economic crisis, he explained.

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