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Shamkhani's visit to Baghdad ... Iran`s attempt to control government formation

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In conjunction with efforts to assign a new Iraqi Prime Minister amid sharp divisions between the political parties, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council visit Iraq.

Observers linked Shamkhani`s visit with a number of scenarios. The most important of these questions is the permanent endeavor of Iran to control the process of forming the new government to be similar to the previous governments since 2003.

Shamkhani came to make up for the absence of Qassim Soleimani, IRGC Commander who was killed early this year at Baghdad airport by a US drone.

His visit came also coinciding with the countdown to the period set by the Iraqi constitution for Barham Salih to nominate a new prime minister.

An Iraqi official revealed to al-Ain newspaper that Shamkhani had a series of meetings in Baghdad and Najaf with officials and political leaders, including President Salih, the outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, head of Iraqi National Intelligence Service Mustafa al-Kazimi,head of Dawa Party Nouri al-Maliki, the head of al-Hikma National movement Ammar al-Hakim, and the leader of Al-Sadri movement Moqtada Al-Sadr, leaders of the IMIS and a number of leaders of other political parties.

The official added that Shamkhani, who is overseeing the formation of the new government, was assigned by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to play Qassim Soleimani`s role. For this reason, Shamkhani visited Baghdad to intervene closely on selecting a pro-Iranian figure after Iran failed to pass the government of Muhammad Allawi.

Early this month, Prime Minister-designate Muhammad Allawi resigned as protests continued to demand sweeping political reforms and putting an end to the Iranian influence in Iraq.

The official pointed out that Iran is expected to choose al-Kazimi for the post of a prime minister because of his loyalty to Iran. He is also supported by the Iranian side and is accepted by most Iraqi political blocs.

Iran is intensifying efforts to recover from losses it suffered in Iraq and Syria after the killing of Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the IMIS and the founder of the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades.

According to political and field estimates,  Soleimani and al-Muhandis`s absence caused a strong blow to Iranian influence in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and the differences between the leaders of IMIS militias began to appear and grow deeper day after another.

Shamkhani's visit to Iraq coincided with the visit of Soleimani`s successor Ismail Qani to Syria.  The independent MP Mithal Al-Alousi considered that it is a message from Iran, the country which is internally and security exhausted.

Alousi said: "Tehran believes that assigning Shamkhani to arrange among its allies from the Iraqi parties is a message to America that Tehran is ready to weaken and marginalize the militias and return to a state of agreement with Washington on the Iraqi scene."

The Iraqi political expert Hisham al-Hashimi said on his Twitter page: “Shamkhani came to fill the gaps in the political file that were caused by Soleimani’s absence and the inability of his successor Qani to accomplish the mission.”

Allawi's resignation came as a result of the popular movement that rejects him since his nomination, considering him from the unwanted political class.

Allawi had been appointed to form the government early last February and had prepared a list of candidates for ministerial positions, claiming that they are independent technocrats. But the lack of a quorum made the most divided parliament in Iraq’s history fail to give Allawi confidence to form the government.
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