Iraqi Journalist: Killing Soleimani "Ended An Era In Which Iran And The United States Coexisted In Iraq" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Iraqi Journalist: Killing Soleimani "Ended An Era In Which Iran And The United States Coexisted In Iraq"

|

"The Guardian" journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad says that before the attack on Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last week "there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians" that allowed officials from Iran and the U.S. to move freely within Iraq and maintained relative goodwill toward American bases.

"The killing of Qassem Soleimani ended an era in which both Iran and the United States coexisted in Iraq," he said.

Now, he told "Democracy Now!", it will be hard for the Iraqi public to see the bases as anything but "a force that is driving them into a war between Iran and the United States."

"Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn’t happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, the rules of the game have totally changed," he said.

Full interview:



AMY GOODMAN: Ghaith, can you comment on this new information that’s come to light about the timing of Soleimani’s assassination Friday morning? Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has revealed he had plans to meet with Soleimani on the day he was killed to discuss a Saudi proposal to defuse tension in the region. Mahdi said, quote, “He came to deliver me a message from Iran responding to the message we delivered from Saudi Arabia to Iran” — Saudi Arabia, obviously, a well-known enemy of Iran. Was he set up? Talk about the significance of this.

GHAITH ABDUL-AHAD: Well, it is very significant if it’s actually General Qassem Soleimani came to Iraq to deliver this message, if it was actually there was a process of negotiations in the region. We know that Abdul-Mahdi and the Iraqi government, in general, over the last year had been trying to position Iraq as this middle power, as this power where both — you know, as a country that has a relationship with both Iran and the United States. In that awkward place Iraq found itself in, Iraq has tried to maximize on this. So they started back in summer and fall, when there was an escalation between Iran and the United States, when Iran shot down an American drone. We’ve seen Adel Abdul-Mahdi fly to Iran, try to mediate. We’ve seen Adel Abdul-Mahdi open channels of communications with the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia.

So, if it actually, the killing of General Soleimani, ended that peace initiative, it will be kind of disastrous in the region, because, as Narges was saying earlier, it is — you know, Pompeo is speaking about Iran being this ultimate evil in the region, as this crescent of Shias, as if they just arrived in the past 10 years in the region. The fact if we see Iran’s reactions, it’s always a reaction to an American provocation. You’ve seen the occupation of Iraq in 2003. You’ve seen Iran declared as an “axis of evil.” So, if you see it from an Iranian perspective, it’s always this existential threat coming from the United States. And I don’t think there is a more existential threat than in past year. So, yes, I know — I mean, I think Adel Abdul-Mahdi and the Iraqi government were trying to find this middle ground, which I think is totally lost, because even Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the person who was trying to find this middle ground, was the person who proposed this law yesterday in the Parliament to expel all American troops from the country.

And I would like to add like another thing. The killing of Qassem Soleimani ended an era in which both Iran and the United States coexisted in Iraq. So, from 2013, '14, we, as journalists, we've seen on the frontlines how the proxies of each power have been helping each other. So we’ve seen Iranian advisers helping the American-trained Iraqi Army unit or counterterrorism unit in the fight against ISIS. In the same sense, we’ve seen American airstrikes on threats to these — kind of to ISIS when it was threatening these militias. That coexistence, it didn’t only come from both having a — sharing an enemy, which is ISIS, or Daesh, but also these were the rules of the game. These were the rules in which Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. I mean, remember, Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad airport, where half of it is an American base. Qassem Soleimani could travel openly in Iraq. He took selfies. People took his pictures. That didn’t happen in secret. Qassem Soleimani was not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hiding in a cave or moving stealthily through the country. He stayed in the Green Zone. So, all this happened because there was an understanding between the Americans and the Iranians. So, if the Americans wanted to keep their bases in Iraq, the Iranians would have the freedom to move. And with the killing of Soleimani, I think the rules of the game have totally changed.

So now I think the first victim of the assassination will be the American bases in Iraq. I don’t see any way where the Americans can keep their presence as they did before the assassination of Soleimani. And even the people in the streets, even the people who opposes Iran, who opposes the presence of Iranian militias in power and politics, the corruption of these pro-Iranian parties, even those people would look at these American bases now as not as a force that came to help them in the fight against ISIS, but a force that’s dragging them into a war between Iran and the United States.



Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives