After popular demonstrations broke out against the situation of the economy and electricity in the 50 Degree heat of Iraq, Mr. Al-Abadi was forced to announce reform packages. Although al-Abadi’s reform packages – 4 announced to this date – have not been implemented, yet it has clearly upset the Iranian government. Iran held an urgent Supreme National Security Council meeting in early September 2015 meeting to assess the situation in Iraq and Yemen. In previous articles we mentioned the decisions made regarding Yemen, yet in this article we want to explain about the issues talked about Iraq.
In this session, Danaifar, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, who is a Quds Force commander, first gave a report on the situation in Iraq and the decisions made by Mr. al-Abadi. In his report the Iranian ambassador said that we are not informed of al-Abadi’s reform packages and only come to realize them through our sources within the Prime Ministry Office. Yet we are sure that US advisors help Mr. al-Abadi prepare these plans. The Iranian embassy, during Maliki’s time, was informed of the most basic issues in the Iraqi government and had hegemony over it. However, currently with Mr. al-Abadi taking office, the Iranian embassy isn’t being informed of these plans. He also mentioned the number of IRGC forces in Iraq and said that currently there are some 3000 IRGC forces in various parts of Iraq. Regarding the current disagreements between the Shiite Coalition in Iraq, the Iranian ambassador said that despite the efforts of me and Qassim Suleimaniand general Masjedi (Suleimani’s deputy and Quds Force commander in Iraq) nothing has been resolved and the differences between various Shiite groups still exist.
Regarding al-Abadi’s reform packages, he said that Mr. al-Abadi’s measures are against Iran’s interests and targeting Maliki and Iraq’s judiciary, the security structure of Baghdad, revoking weapons treaties from Maliki’s era, making changes in the structure of the Bassij and militias, making changes in the Airport management structure, are all against Iran’s interests.
Regarding the actions he has so far taken in Iraq, he said that he has had meetings with Mr. Jafari, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Maliki, Hakim and Mr. Sistani’s representative. We have put our pressures on al-Abadi through them, which have had results. Iraq’s judiciary Chief Medhat Mahmoud was to be sacked right after Maliki, yet it has been suspended. We were also able to prevent changes in the structure of the Bassij and militias and we were able to stabilize Iran’s weapons treaties with the Bassij forces until the end of 2015.
Iraq’s political future was also a point of discussion and it was said that it is very complicated and very hard to prospect. It was stated that not only the future of Iraq but the entire region is unclear and we must wait to see what happens. Regarding the upcoming elections in Iraq, the issue of discussion was who to invest on. In our view Mr. al-Abadi has no chance for the future. Maliki has also been completely politically discredited and is suffering from heart problems.
In short, no decisions were made in this session because of the complicated situation on the ground in Iraq.
As you know, recently there was an argument between Qassim Suleimani and al-Abadi. In this regard the Iranian ambassador gave explanations that the reason for the argument was the changes that al-Abadi wanted to make in the management structure of the Bassij and militia forces and also the weapons’ treaties he wanted to revoke. In this regard we drew back a portion of the Bassij forces from Anbar and Tikrik and warned al-Abadi that if he continued such adventurous measures, the militias will draw back completely from the Baghdad beltway and holly cities.
Also in this session, the National Guard law that is to me ratified by the Parliament was discussed. Qassem Suleimani expressed his concern about the plan and called it a decisive blow to the popular mobilization forces. It was decided that they use all their assets within the Iraqi government and Parliament against this plan and prevent it from being ratified.
The above mentioned issues were part of the issues of discussion in Iran’s Supreme National Security Council meeting regarding Iraq. As visible, Iran sees itself as the main owner of the Iraqi government and has received a decisive blow from the sacking of Maliki. Iran’s elements are still within the administrative sections of the Iraqi government and have halted al-Abadi’s measures. The main change that Iran has set as a red line for al-Abadi is the change of judicial chief Medhat Mahmoud because if this individual is replaced the corruption case in Iraq will fully open up.
Although Iran is using all its might to prevent the reform measures, yet its actions can only delay such reforms and it is the Iraqi people that have the last word. The day is not far that Iran and all its militias in Iraq will be evicted from this country.