01:22 GMT +317 October 2018
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    An Iraqi woman walks her national flag during a celebration marking the the departure of US troops from Iraq in Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighbourhood. File photo

    Ex-Iraqi Envoy: Baghdad, Tehran Ties Could Cause Tension With Washington

    © AFP 2018 / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Iraq’s inability to cut ties with Iran will likely lead to discord between Baghdad and Washington in light of the US decision to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic republic, Iraq Foundation President and former Iraqi ambassador to the United States, Rend Al-Rahim, told Sputnik.

    "The US, particularly given that this administration really is taking a very hard stance against Iran… is going to be upset, but I hope that Washington has some flexibility because Iraq cannot simply cut off all dealings with Iran," Al-Rahim said on Tuesday. "It’s just not possible for Iraq neither economically nor politically nor geographically. I do anticipate friction between Baghdad and Washington on this issue but hopefully we can resolve it."

    Al-Rahim said Iraq recently sent a delegation to Washington seeking an exemption "or at least a partial exemption" from US sanctions against Iran. The Iraqi government, the former ambassador added, is saying to the US government that Baghdad is in a special position.

    "First of all, we have a 1,400-kilometer [around 870 mile] border with Iran, so, it’s impossible to close that border, and we have to import certain stuffs from Iran," Al Rahim said. "Secondly, Iraq imports refined fuels from Iran, not crude, and we need these refined fuels."

    In addition, Iraq gets electricity from Iran because it is the closest place available, although the Saudis and the Kuwaitis are beginning to supply it, she said.

    When asked about the US armed forces in Iraq Al-Rahim said she sees the need for a continued international military presence because the fight against the Daesh terrorist group is not over.

    "We have all kinds of pockets of ISIS [Daesh], sleeping cells and there are attacks every day. That’s one issue," she said. "The other issue is that our security forces are still weak, although they are a million times better than they were in 2014, but they still need a lot of capacity building, a lot of training and so on."

    Al-Rahim said an international presence is also needed for things such as intelligence sharing and training on intelligence gathering.

    Since the United States withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal in May and announced the reinstatement of all the sanctions against Iran, Washington has been calling on importers of Iranian oil to stop buying it by November 4 — the date when the second package of US sanctions against Iran is set to be imposed.

    READ MORE: Iraq Resumes Oil Swap With Iran, Despite Potentially Leaving Saudis Dissatisfied

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    Tags:
    policy, tension, ties, sanctions, relationship, Rend Al-Rahim, United States, Iran, Iraq
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