Iranian and Iraqi foreign ministers in Tehran at a joint press conference. December 23, 2021

Iranian and Iraqi foreign ministers in Tehran at a joint press conference. December 23, 2021

Tehran May Be Deescalating In Iraq As Baghdad Calls For Iran-US Direct Talks

12/23/2021

Iraq's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein has said in a news conference in Tehran Thursday, that "It is time for Iran and the United States to start direct talks."

Hussein added that Baghdad is willing to play an active part in solving the problems between Iran and the United States. He said tensions between Iran and America are part of Iraq's domestic problems as they affect its internal situation for various reasons.

He added that any breakthrough in relations between Tehran and Washington will have a positive impact on the political, economic and security situation in Iraq, which is pursuing a series of critical talks in Tehran and Washington to serve its own interests.

Hussein said that now that the 7th round of the nuclear talks has ended in Vienna, it appears that there is a problem in the mechanism of the negotiations which will be solved if Iran and the United States talk directly to each other rather than through European mediators.

The Iraqi official also expressed support for the dialogue between Tehran and Riyadh and said that Baghdad looks forward to the fifth round of the talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In another sign of change in the relations between Iran and Iraq, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi said during a meeting with Iraq's Foreign Minister in Tehran on Thursday that "the Islamic Republic has always supported the establishment of a strong and powerful parliament and government in Iraq."

This comes while the opposition of Iran’s proxy groups to the results of the latest round of parliamentary elections in Iraq is the main hindrance on the way of forming a new Iraqi government. Meanwhile, the pro-Iran militia in Iraq have been involved in violence since the elections in October, and their political rivals have also launched attacks on Iranian establishments in Iraq.

During the meeting with the Iraqi official, Raisi described the parliamentary elections in Iraq as "peaceful and secure." This is the first time an Iranian official portrays the Iraqi election in a good light.

Thursday’s developments in Tehran are in line with reports by international news agencies about Iran’s change of approach to developments in Iraq. A Reuters report on Thursday said that Iran is intervening to quell destabilizing internal unrest stirred up by its proxy militias.

The report was referring to last month's drone attack on the residence of Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi which some officials in Baghdad blamed on Iran-backed groups. Iran's Qods Force Commander Esmail Ghaani immediately rushed to Baghdad to reassure Iraqi officials and tell the pro-Iran groups to accept the result of the election won by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

It is not clear if Iran’s change of approach toward Iraq is related to its negotiations with world powers aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement and lifting of US sanctions. But being implicated in tensions in the neighboring country would not help its cause at the talks.

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