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Former Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s (2020-22) recent trip to Iran came as a surprise to many Iraqis and Iranians. The Feb. 21 visit particularly raised eyebrows as Kadhimi was welcomed by President Ebrahim Raisi, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Iraqi premiers are rarely received at such senior levels in Iran after leaving office.
The trip triggered a strong backlash among Kadhimi’s Shiite rivals in Iraq. As such, questions have emerged about the nature of his mission in Iran, why he was received at such a high level—and why the reactions in Baghdad have been so fierce.
Iraq’s regional role
While the Mar. 10 agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore relations was announced in China, the dialogue began in Iraq. Baghdad hosted five rounds of talks between delegations from Riyadh and Tehran in 2021 and 2022. Those sessions were partly made possible by Kadhimi’s close personal relationships with Arab regional leaders, both during his time heading the...
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