Iran’s Soleimani in Baghdad for talks to shape next Iraqi government

A file photo showing Iran’s IRGC leader General Qasem Soleimani.(AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018

Iran’s Soleimani in Baghdad for talks to shape next Iraqi government

LONDON: Iran and its allies were launching a bid on Wednesday to limit the role of fiery Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in Iraq’s next government after his shock election win reshaped the country’s political landscape.
AFP reported that Iran’s “strong man” General Qassem Soleimani held talks in Baghdad with two prominent Shiite parties.
AFP, quoting a source who attended both meetings, added that Soleimani will push for a broader coalition to re-unite former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the current PM Haidar Al-Abadi, both from the Shiite Daawa party.
The source confirmed that the Iranians hope to build the largest Iraqi Shiite coalition to lead the next government, and Soleimani is working to mend fences between Abadi and Al-Maliki in addition to Bader militia leader Hadi Ameri, and Ammar Al-Hakim as well as Iraqi Kurds loyal to Iran.
Preliminary numbers from last weekend’s vote put the ‘Conquest Alliance’ of pro-Iranian former militia leader Hadi Al-Ameri, whose forces helped battle Daesh, in second place, followed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s bloc.
Abadi, a consensus figure favored by the US had been seen as a likely frontrunner after declaring victory over Daesh five months ago.
The vote, which saw record high abstention, was considered a slap in the face to the widely reviled elite that has dominated Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
According to the officials, Soleimani ruled out any alliance with Sadr, who surprised many last year by visiting Iran’s regional foe Saudi Arabia as Riyadh sought increased involvement in Iraq.

Pompeo thanks Saudi crown prince for supporting UN Yemen envoy Griffiths during Middle East tour

Updated 3 min 20 sec ago

Pompeo thanks Saudi crown prince for supporting UN Yemen envoy Griffiths during Middle East tour

LONDON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has thanked Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for supporting the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths.

Speaking on Wednesday in Kuwait, Pompeo said he and the crown prince both agreed on the need for both parties in the Yemeni conflict to commit to the regulations of the Sweden agreement of 2018.

Pompeo is currently on a tour of the Middle East to bolster a united front against Iran, kicking off his regional trip in Kuwait where he met Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on Wednesday.

Pompeo told reporters on the flight from the US that he would discuss "strategic dialogue" and the need to combat "the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran" with leaders in the region.

After Kuwait Pompeo will fly to Israel before heading to Lebanon.

Pompeo is also pushing for a greater role for the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a US-sponsored Arab NATO aimed at uniting Washington's Arab allies against Tehran.

"We all have the same set of threats, threats from Al-Qaeda, from Daesh, threats from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said at a joint press conference with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah.

Pompeo expressed hope that a regional rift between Gulf states and Qatar would abate, saying the resolving the issue would be in the region's best interests.

(With AFP)