MENA WATCH REPORT: Iranian Involvement in Iraq

  • On August 27, the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fuad Hussein, spoke on the phone with the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and congratulated him on the occasion of assuming his position.
  • The Iranian minister of foreign affairs stressed Iran’s ongoing support to Iraq, and its willingness to deepen the relationship between the two countries. He also called for implementing cooperation agreements previously inked by leaders of both countries (ILNA, August 27).
  • The Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, took part in a conference on regional cooperation, which was held on August 28 in Baghdad, upon the initiative of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kazimi. The conference was also attended by the Jordanian king, the Egyptian president, the French President, Emanuel Macron, and representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Qatar. Before his departure to Baghdad, Abdollahian stated that Iran supports any regional initiative of the government in Iraq. He added that Syria should have been invited to the conference as well, as an important neighbor of Iraq. He made sure to mention that Iran consults Syria’s leadership concerning regional security and will hold direct discussions with it concerning any regional initiative (Tasnim, August 28). During his visit to Baghdad, Abdollahian met with senior Iraqi government officials, chief among them Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kazimi, and Iraqi President, Barham Salih (Fars, August 29).
  • The Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, conducted a visit to the work site at the shrine in al-Kazimiya in northern Baghdad, where laborers are expanding and renovating the pilgrimage site. The development works in the region, where the seventh and ninth Shia imams are buried, is being carried out by Iranian engineers working for the headquarters for the rehabilitation of Shia holy sites in Syria and Iraq (Sha News, August 22). In recent years, the organization has worked to expand and reconstruct Shia pilgrimage sites, a few of which have been damaged in the wars in Syria and Iraq.
  • The Iranian Organization for Trade Development reported a significant rise in the volume of trade between Iran and Iraq in recent months. According to the data of the organization, the value of Iranian exports to Iraq during the first four months of the Persian year (March until July 2021) has increased by 23 percent compared to the same period in 2020, reaching 2.817 billion dollars. Iraq is ranked second (after China, and ahead of the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Afghanistan) among Iran’s top export destinations. In parallel, a significant rise took place in the volume of Iraqi exports to Iran. The value of Iranian imports rose by 540 percent compared to the same period last year, reaching 140 million dollars (ISNA, August 25).