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.

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