The Iranian regime is gravely concerned of the Iraqi government’s reforms carried out by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi under pressures from popular demonstrations. The reason is these reform have targeted Iran’s top political proxy in Iraq, being former prime minister and dismissed vice president Nouri al-Maliki. I have obtained news from various sources inside Iran about Tehran’s measures to prevent the arrest and prosecution of Maliki. Below is a list of these reports shedding light on the depth of Iran’s influence in Iraq:
- Following a 6-day visit Maliki returned from Iran to Iraq on Wednesday afternoon, August 19th. Based on obtained reports, Iran has made an agreement with al-Abadi for no rulings to be issued against Maliki and the case to be referred to the judiciary, to allow the judiciary issue a ruling saying Maliki had no role and his file would be closed through such means. Al-Abadi has not gotten involved in this case and referred this dossier to the judiciary and Parliament.
- Another source has said, “Iran hopes that based on its influence in Iraq it will be able to revoke Maliki’s ruling in court and have the file closed… Iran is concerned about the reforms taking place in Iraq, and the parallel trend of developments in Iraq with US policy, and power in Iraq becoming unified under one man.”
- Despite the fact that one week has passed since the speech delivered by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani through his envoy on the necessity of reforms in the judiciary, there have yet to be any practical measures in this regard. In fact, in response to al-Sistani’s words the judiciary published a record of its activities during the past five years.
- Mohseni Ejhe’i, spokesman of Iran’s judiciary branch said in an interview: “The reform plan launched by Mr. al-Abadi includes the head of Iraq’s judiciary branch. I call on the Foreign Ministry and Quds Force to begin talks and negotiations to prevent any change regarding the head of Iraq’s judiciary branch… as we were told Mr. al-Abadi has sent a message to Mad’hat Mahmoud saying he should resign from his post as head of the judiciary, or else he will take measures to have him relieved. This message led to the head of the judiciary presenting his request for retirement to the Iraqi government’s High Judiciary Council.”
- Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani has been in Baghdad since Tuesday, August 18th, focusing his activities on al-Abadi’s reforms. Iran is very much concerned about al-Abadi’s reform plans because they are in line with US policies and Tehran is being eliminated from all equations in the region, especially in Iraq.
- Currently this policy is also being pursued in Kurdistan and Iran is being eliminated from the equation in Kurdistan, having no role in the developments there. All developments in Kurdistan are being tracked by the US, UK and the UN. In this regard Ambassador Brett H. McGurk, Deputy Special US Presidential Envoy is continuously travelling between Baghdad and Erbil and following up on the events very closely. McGurk returned to Erbil from Baghdad on Monday for an important session with al-Abadi.
1) Iran’s policy in this stage is to maintain Maliki in Iraq’s political scene and it intends to rely on the presence of Mad’hat Mahmoud in the judiciary to prepare the grounds to acquit Maliki from all his accusations.
2) Iran’s main concern in this stage is the political power in Iraq becoming unified under al-Abadi’s control, enjoying the support of both the US and ‘Marjaiya’ (Shiite religious leadership). Through this end Iran’s hegemony will be eliminated from all matters in Iraq.