ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Iraq’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday rejected what it said was US interference in its affairs after Washington’s embassy in Baghdad issued a statement calling on neighboring Iran to respect the sovereignty of Iraq and allow for the demobilization of Iranian-backed Shia militias.
In a tweet posted on the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Twitter on Tuesday, the mission stated that Iran “must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration” of Shia militias.
It was one of several tweets issued by the American diplomatic mission highlighting Washington’s demands ahead of new sanctions, set to take effect on Nov. 5 on Iran’s energy and financial sectors.
The embargoes have concerned Iraq as it considerably relies on Iran to import food and gas.
“The Ministry would like to point out that the second part of said statement goes beyond diplomatic norms and mutual respect for the sovereignty of states as a well-established principle of international law,” read the statement issued by the spokesperson of Iraq’s Foreign Ministry, Ahmed Mahjoub.
It also noted that it “rejects interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, especially domestic security reforms,” and demanded the US Embassy in Baghdad remove the social media post.
Since the fall of the authoritarian system in Iraq in 2003, both the US and Iran have competed to extend their influence on Iraq.
Iraq’s Shia militias played a key role in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) and have been formally integrated into Iraq’s security apparatus. Many of the militias, however, are pro-Iran and, are, in fact, directed by Tehran.
Until recently, the US tended to avoid dealing with that challenge, but with America’s tough, new policy against Iran, it is also starting publicly to take on the issue. Hence, the spat over the embassy’s tweets.
Iraqi officials recently affirmed that Baghdad would receive a waiver regarding US sanctions that will allow Iraq to continue importing food, gas, and other energy supplies from Iran.
Editing by Nadia Riva