Iraq PM holds talk with ally Iran as war on IS, Kurd dispute hot up
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi held talks with key ally Iran today as his forces launched an offensive against the Islamic State group’s last bastion in the country.
Abadi held morning talks with First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri ahead of meetings with other top leaders.
The Tehran stop came as Iraqi forces launched a new assault on Kurdish forces in a disputed area of Nineveh province, sparking heavy artillery exchanges, according to Kurdish authorities and correspondents in the region.
federal troops and allied paramilitaries launched an offensive up the Euphrates Valley towards the Syrian border in a bid to retake the last IS bastion in Iraq.
Tehran has poured significant resources into the war against the jihadists in Iraq, providing weapons, advice and training to the Shiite militias which dominate the paramilitary force.
Its involvement has irked Washington but has been defended by the Iraqi prime minister, who gave a firm rebuff to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over his comments on the issue.
Abadi has been deeply defensive of his government’s close alliance with neighbouring Iran, which like Iraq is a Shiite-majority country.
On a visit to Tehran’s Sunni arch rival Riyadh on Sunday, Tillerson called for Iranian militias in Iraq to “go home” as the fight against IS was coming to a close.
The fighters of the paramilitary force are “Iraqis who have fought terrorism, defended their country and made sacrifices to defeat (IS)”, Abadi said, according to a statement from his office.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq share a long border (the longest border by far for both nations) and an ancient cultural and religious heritage. In ancient times Iraq formed part of the core of Persia (modern-day Iran) for about a thousand years.
Modern relations between the two nations grew increasingly difficult after the 14 July Revolution in Iraq in 1958 overthrew the Hashemite Monarchy and resulted in the country withdrawing from the Baghdad Pact.
The Ba’ath Party gained power in Iraq in the 1960s, taking a more aggressive stance on border disputes. In the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran over border disputes and a design to gain control of oil-rich areas in Iran’s territory.
The conflict lasted for eight years and ended in a stalemate, and involved the use of chemical weapons and ethnic violence against Iraqi Shia Arabs, who were accused of colluding with Shia Iran. While Iran did not support the multi-national coalition against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, it housed many Shia political organizations opposing Saddam’s rule.