As the Iraqi protests unfold, developments in the country assume new dimensions. The resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, the attack on the Iranian consulate in Najaf and the burning of the tomb of martyr Mohammad Baqer Hakim are new events that have taken place in Iraq: Events that may have partially domestic platforms but beyond that they speak of the influence of foreign actors in the developments of Iraq.
Former Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danaeifar, has discussed the dimensions and implications of the recent developments in Iraq in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.
Q: The resignation of the Iraqi prime minister and escalation of the unrests in Iraq show that the situation in the country has somewhat become unpredictable. Given this trend, what criteria should be considered in analyzing the current situation in Iraq?
More than two months have passed since the outbreak of unrests in Iraq, which began with some rightful demands by the people such as welfare and fight against corruption; but on the sidelines some groups tried to ride the wave of popular protests and certain foreigner hands attempted to steer the protests to serve their own interests. This is happening under conditions that the Iraqi religious leaders have repeatedly warned that these protests should not go beyond their rightful demands and fall in line with the demands of some mercenary and foreign groups.
In view of what is happening, no one can deny the rightful demands of the Iraqi people and the accumulation of political demands and the pressure that exists in Iraq. The people in central and southern Iraq have demands that cannot really be ignored. So the way the Iraqi government responds to these popular demands, especially after election of a new prime minister, could help further escalate or end the protests in the country. Furthermore, one should not overlook the role of foreign actors trying to divert the popular protests towards confrontation with the Shia religious authorities and Iran.
Q: The Iraqi Prime Minister was forced to resign after Ayatollah Sistani’s statement on the need for MPs to reconsider survival of Abdul Mahdi’s government due to its failure in providing security and safeguarding the rights and lives of the people. Under these conditions, how would the Iraqi Prime Minister’s resignation affect the situation in the country?
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has resigned within the framework of the peaceful means enshrined in the country’s constitution and there will be no specific impact unless the election of a new prime minister would face challenges and spark a political crisis.
When a prime minister resigns for whatever reason the Parliament should approve it which it did on Sunday. Now the president has a chance to nominate candidates on several occasions to the parliament for approval.
But there is concern that some may want to interfere in Iraq’s affairs, following events such as attacks on government facilities, an attack on the Iranian consulate in Najaf, or the burning of the tomb of martyr Mohammad Baqer Hakim.
Q: In view of what happened at the Iranian Consulate in Najaf how should conspiracies to undermine Baghdad-Tehran relations be discovered, exposed, and neutralized and could such issues affect the relations between the governments and nations of Iran and Iraq?
In my opinion, the relations between the two peoples of Iran and Iraq will not be harmed by such events although some are taking such actions to destroy these relations. After the Iranian consulate in Najaf was attacked, the Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the move and the Iraqi Prime Minister underlined the need to maintain security in all diplomatic centers.
The current situation in Iraq is understandable to everyone, and it is also understandable to the Islamic Republic of Iran that actions may be taken beyond the power of the Baghdad government. I think this understanding between the two countries now fully exists.
Q: Who will benefit from the current situation in Iraq and its deterioration?
The Zionist regime, which has been trying to bomb centers in Iraq over the past4-5 months, is among the supporters of the unrests in Iraq. Also, some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and their affiliated networks, continue to provoke protests in Iraq so that the Baghdad government was forced to close their offices. The United Arab Emirates and the United States are among the countries that benefit from the unrests in Iraq. Of course, the Americans are dealing with the issue of Iraq in a hypocritical manner; they say something at official meetings between Baghdad and Washington, and say something different in their statements; but the US does not want peace to be restored in Iraq. However, a country such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has a 1400 km joint border with Iraq undoubtedly wants peace in the neighboring country and will not hesitate to help if the Iraqi authorities ask for it.