For the first time and in an unusual act, Iraqi Prime Minister Heydar al-Abadi lashed out at Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, who is the most influential Iranian figure in the region.
Since Ayad Alawi’s premiership in 2003 and afterwards during Ibrahim Jafari’s time in office and then Nouri al-Maliki and now Heydar al-Abadi, never has any Iraqi PM openly disagreed with general Suleimani. He was always considered by Iran as Iraq’s security advisor.
Every once in a while Iranian leaders gave news of the killing of a distinguished Quds Force officer in the war against ISIS in Iraq. Of course this in itself is a clear sign of Iran’s intervention in Iraq’s affairs and is controlling Iraqi military forces in the cities of Samara and Tikrit and the Anbar and Diyala provinces. In many instances Qassem Suleimani has been seen on videos posted on social medias, where is quickly shows his presence in scenes of war in Iraqi cities. The presence of Qassem Suleimani is a sign of a decisive alignment between Tehran and Baghdad. The videos show Qassem Suleimani alongside Badr commander Hadi Ameri and Hezbollah brigades and Abu Medi Mohandess. Not only does Iran control Iraq’s military leadership, but the country’s political process is formed under Iranian decision-makings. Qassem Suleimani entered Karbala late last week. It is said that this is an attempt by Iran to reform the Shiite coalition in Iraq, which has fallen apart following the popular anti-corruption uprisings in Iraq.
What happened during al-Abadi and Suleimani’s meeting?
The political delegation of the Shiite coalition, led by Ibrahim Jafari, held an important meeting at the beginning of this week with the presence of Qassem Suleimani. This meeting included individuals such as Nouri al-Maliki, Badr Organization commander Hadi Ameri, Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq leader Amar Hakim and a representative from the Sadr faction. Reports from inside the meeting show that Qassem Suleimani was there to reshape the mood within the Shiite coalition and prevent former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki’s prosecution.
It has been set for al-Maliki to be prosecuted for his role in pulling out Iraqi troops from the city of Mosul in the summer of 2014, which led to the occupation of Iraq’s second largest city by ISIS. In this meeting Qassem Suleimani expressed his discomfort with PM Heydar al-Abadi’s reforms, especially what related to al-Maliki. However, Suleimani’s remarks and his clear intervention in Iraq’s affairs brought about the protest of al-Abadi that eventually led to the hastily exit of Qassem Suleimani from the meeting. Al-Abadi’s courage in standing against the interventions of Qassem Suleimani, contrary to the previous political process, has brought about changes. Currently, there are many ongoing demonstrations in Iraqi cities. Demonstrators are calling for government reforms. Al-Abadi has promised to implement these reforms. To this date the Iraqi PM has dropped the number of government ministries from 33 to 22 and also cut its budget.