Iran's Khamenei Bars Sadr's Rivals in Iraq from Joining his Coalition

Iraqi lawmakers attending the inaugural session of the parliament in Baghdad, January 9 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister's Press Office, AFP)
Iraqi lawmakers attending the inaugural session of the parliament in Baghdad, January 9 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister's Press Office, AFP)
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Iran's Khamenei Bars Sadr's Rivals in Iraq from Joining his Coalition

Iraqi lawmakers attending the inaugural session of the parliament in Baghdad, January 9 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister's Press Office, AFP)
Iraqi lawmakers attending the inaugural session of the parliament in Baghdad, January 9 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister's Press Office, AFP)

Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has joined efforts to address the crisis between Iraq's Sadrist movement leader, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the pro-Tehran Coordination Framework as they grapple to form a new government.

Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Khamenei has forced the Coordination Framework to remain united, barring its members, specifically Hadi al-Ameri's Fatah alliance, from joining the rival Sadrist camp.

It was revealed that late last month leaders of the Framework had drafted a letter asking Khamenei to allow members of the alliance to join Sadr's coalition in spite of the reservations against him.

The letter was supposed to be sent by head of the State of Law coalition, led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but the decision to send it was never taken.

Maliki, however, "leaked it from behind their backs" because he knew that Khamenei's response would put an end to any chance of striking an alliance between the Sadrists and the Fatah alliance.

The exchange of messages between the Framework and Khamenei reveals the extent of the role - or lack of it - played by Iran's Quds Forces commander Esmail Qaani in Iraq.

Contrary to his slain predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, Qaani appears to be playing the role of messenger between Tehran, Baghdad, Erbil and Najaf.

Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport in 2020, played a more influential role in Iraq than Qaani, and was largely able to keep Shiite parties united, in contrast to their current state of disarray.

Qaani met Sadr in Najaf on Tuesday in an effort to resolve the crisis.

The Sadrist leader tweeted after the talks: "Neither east, nor west... a government of national majority," in what observers said was as a sign that Qaani had failed to make a breakthrough.

Sadr, who emerged victorious in the October parliamentary elections, holds sway over the formation of the next Iraqi government.



US Criticizes ICJ Opinion that Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories is Illegal

FILE PHOTO: A view shows mobile homes in the Jewish settlement of Givat Haroeh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A view shows mobile homes in the Jewish settlement of Givat Haroeh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo
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US Criticizes ICJ Opinion that Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories is Illegal

FILE PHOTO: A view shows mobile homes in the Jewish settlement of Givat Haroeh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A view shows mobile homes in the Jewish settlement of Givat Haroeh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

The United States criticized "the breadth" of the top UN court's opinion in which the International Court of Justice said Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal, with Washington saying it will complicate efforts to resolve the conflict.
"We have been clear that Israel's program of government support for settlements is both inconsistent with international law and obstructs the cause of peace," a US State Department spokesperson said on Saturday in an email.
"However, we are concerned that the breadth of the court's opinion will complicate efforts to resolve the conflict and bring about an urgently needed just and lasting peace, with two states living side-by-side in peace and security," the State Department added.

In The Hague, ICJ presiding judge Nawaf Salam said: "The court has found... that Israel's continued presence in the Palestinian Territories is illegal."

Israel is "under the obligation to bring to an end its unlawful presence as rapidly as possible," the judge said in its finding, read at the Peace Palace, seat of the ICJ.

The ICJ added that Israel was "under an obligation to cease immediately all new settlement activities and to evacuate all settlers" from occupied land.

Israel's policies and practices, including the maintenance of a wall between the territories, "amount to annexation of large parts" of the occupied territory, the court said.