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Iran Hands over ‘Iraq’ to Soleimani Successor

Iran Hands over ‘Iraq’ to Soleimani Successor

Wednesday, 20 April, 2022 - 09:15
Iran’s new ambassador to Iraq Mohammad Kazem Al-Sadeq (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The US and Iran have appointed new ambassadors to Iraq. The diplomats come from an intelligence and military background and were involved in the region's crises at different levels.


What does this mean for a politically dysfunctional country that has been unable to form a new government since the October elections?


Iran has named Mohammad Kazem Al-Sadeq as its new ambassador to Baghdad. As is often the case with Iranian ambassadors to Iraq, Sadeq is reportedly a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force.


Al-Sadeq would replace Iraj Masjedi, who has held the post since April 2017.


Even though Iraqi diplomats deny the change “having anything to do with the crisis of forming the Iraqi government,” many behind-the-scenes Shiite actors suggest otherwise.


In Washington, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, earlier this month, heard the testimony of the new ambassador, Alina Romanowski.


Romanowski described Iraq as a “cornerstone” and warned against the influence of armed factions there.


After finishing her mission as ambassador in Kuwait, Romanowski is on her way to Baghdad with a strong resume packed with experience in the US Department of Defense and the CIA.


Romanowski is motivated to redraw the rules of engagement with the Iranians, who sent Al-Sadeq to wait for her in Baghdad.


The story of how Al-Sadeq ended up as an Iranian ambassador to Iraq is more remarkable than Romanowski’s.


It exposes the dynamics of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Iraq, and the desire of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to address the confusion in which Esmail Qaani, the commander of the Quds Force (the foreign arm of the Revolutionary Guards), and Masjedi did not succeed in resolving.


Al-Sadeq born in Najaf, hails from an Iranian-Iraqi family known for its commitment to “religious studies.”


His family enjoys connections dating back to the 70s to prominent religious families in Iraq and Iran.


Al-Sadeq was one of the most prominent figures to accompany Qassem Soleimani, the late commander of the Quds Force.


In Iraq, Al-Sadeq has deeply rooted connections with the leaders of Shiite parties. This has allowed him to understand and get involved in doctrinal issues in the Iraqi crisis and created the needed atmosphere for him to be Soleimani’s possible successor in the region.


It seems that Al-Sadeq’s main task will be focused on keeping the Iranian influence strong and growing in the central government in Baghdad.


His appointment could provide a different administrative model for the implementation of Iranian policy, and this may greatly affect the negotiations to form the new Iraqi government.


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