Iraq should join Iran in pursuing justice following the assassination of commander Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as their assassination on Iraqi soil by the US constitutes a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has said.
“The United States violated Iraqi territory and impudently assassinated those who risked their lives to crush the bones of terrorism. This is not a simple issue. The American assassination is a major case that must be pursued vigorously,” Qalibaf said, speaking to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran on Wednesday.
According to Qalibaf, the assassinations of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, “on the direct order of President Trump, is a stain of shame that will never be erased from the faces of White House officials.”
“We believe that the region will not achieve stability as long as foreign forces are present in the region,” the parliament speaker added, referring to the Iraqi parliamentary initiative to remove US forces from Iraqi soil following the US drone strike at Baghdad’s international airport which killed Soleimani and the senior Iraqi Shia commander.
Al-Kadhimi was said to have thanked Iran for its assistance in the campaign to crush Daesh (ISIS)*, and promised that Iraq would not allow for its territory to be used in a way that threatens Tehran.
The Iraqi prime minister arrived in Iran on Tuesday for talks with senior Iranian officials, with Iran becoming his first international trip since he took office in May. Along with the Soleimani assassination and the US presence in Iraq, al-Kadhimi and Qalibaf discussed political and economic ties, the coronavirus situation, and other issues. During his trip, al-Kadhimi also spoke to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani called the visit a symbolic “turning point” in Iran-Iraq ties.
In his remarks Wednesday, Qalibaf similarly recalled the significance of warming relations. “Iraq is important for every single Iranian; however, the two countries had a special time during the rule of the criminal Saddam [Hussein] in Iraq,” the official said. “But in recent years, Iraq has hosted millions of Iranians during Arbaeen rallies and ceremonies and Iran has hosted millions of Iraqi pilgrims in Mashhad and Qom. The political, economic and cultural relations between the two neighbouring countries are being deepened at the highest levels,” he stressed.
Baghdad and Tehran have enjoyed warming ties in recent years amid the common war against Daesh. Before that, the two nations faced decades of poor relations following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which was followed shortly thereafter by the Iraqi invasion of Iran and a brutal eight year war which claimed the lives of as many as 1.2 million soldiers and civilians.
Over Half a Year Later, Soleimani’s Killing Continues to Resonate
Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Quds Force extraterritorial military formation, played a key role in Iran’s contribution to the war against Daesh in Iraq and Syria between 2014-2017, and Syria’s war against Islamist militants, including the local branch of al-Qaeda* before that. His assassination in a US drone strike on January 3, 2020 led to a sharp escalation of tensions between Iran and the US, and caused retaliatory missile strikes on two Iraqi bases hosting US troops on January 8. Iraqi authorities were warned of the strikes ahead of time, allowing them to warn US forces of the impending attack. Nevertheless, over 100 US servicemen and women suffered traumatic brain injuries in the attacks.
Late last month, Iranian authorities approved issuing an arrest warrant against Trump and other US and foreign officials thought to be involved in the planning of Soleimani’s assassination. Interpol has indicated that it would reject an international red notice request from Iran on the matter.
Earlier this month, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard concluded that Soleimani’s assassination was unlawful, and “directed not only at Iran but also Iraq” because it violated the nation’s territorial integrity.
* Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.