Publishe Date: 8:58 AM - 8/26/2014 | Print

Zarif’s Iraq visit carries crucial message: Iran Daily

Politics - Zarif’s visit to Baghdad and Iran’s support for an Iraqi government with the participation of all ethnic and religious groups is the starting point for containing terrorism and sectarianism in the Middle Eastern country, wrote ˈIran Dailyˈ published Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is the highest ranking Iranian official to visit Iraq following the complicated process of the formation of a new Iraqi government, wrote the English-language daily in its Opinion column.

Before the visit, when political struggle in the country reached its climax, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, visited Baghdad and met Iraqi officials and religious leaders to declare Tehran’s support for the central government of Iraq in the face of Takfiri-Baathist insurgency in the north and east of the country. In general, Iran’s new diplomatic activities regarding Iraq were focused on developments inside and outside of the country, it noted.

Tehran has been trying to narrow the gaps between Iraqi ethnic and religious groups as well as political differences within the government of outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to unite them in the face of further advance of terrorist group of ISIL in the provinces of Al-Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh, the daily stressed.

Despite the fact that moderate Iraqi Sunni groups should be involved in the process of the formation of Iraqi government, measures must be taken to revive relations between Shias and Kurds. Shia and Kurdish groups had fought against the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein for several years and both have historical and strong bonds, underlined the paper.

But, the strategic ties between Shias and Kurds turned sour in recent years due to political differences and territorial disputes between Baghdad and Erbil. The volume of divergence between the central government and semiautonomous Kurdish region reached its climax in June when they failed to take a united stance against their common enemy in the first days of ISIL terrorist group’s offensive in northern Iraq.

Even after the occupation of Mosul and Tikrit by ISIL and its crimes in the cities, they have no idea on how to fight the terrorists. Meanwhile a rapid movement of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in occupying the cities of Kirkuk and Khanaqin amid the ISIL insurgency was a breaking point in the relations between Baghdad and Erbil.

However, after the launch of ISIL attacks on Kurdish cities, both sides decided to reconcile their differences and be united against the terrorist group in cooperation with moderate Sunni groups. Therefore after Iran’s consultation with the leaders of the three main Iraqi groups, the structure of new Iraqi coalition government was formed. By convention, the role of head of parliament is awarded to Iraq’s Sunnis, the post of president to the Kurds and premiership reserved for Iraq’s Shia due to their population. The deputies of each post should also be elected from two other groups. The break of the impasse in forming the new government was a major step in the start of restoring political stability to Iraq.

Iran—which is one of the main allies of Iraq—has tried to prevent the Iraqi crisis from turning into an ethnic conflict. Atrocities of ISIL against all ethnic and religious groups in Iraq even forced Iran’ enemies as well as regional rivals and the opponents of Iraqi Shia government to reconsider the disastrous consequences of supporting the Takfiri group.

Tehran’s support for the new Iraqi government under the premiership of Haider al-Abadi was welcomed by European states, the US and regional governments including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.

Given its geopolitical situation and its capacity for establishing peace and stability in the region, Iran can help make Iraq more stable and form a coalition against terrorism in the Middle East, it concluded.

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