All tagged Baghdad

Iraq Caught in the Middle of US-Iran Face-Off

◢ Scarred by two decades of conflict, Iraq finds itself caught in the middle of a US-Iranian tug-of-war, fearing it could pay the price of any confrontation between its two main allies. Analysts say third parties may seek to exploit the latest spike in tensions between Tehran and Washington to spark a showdown that serves their own interests.

Pompeo in Baghdad on Unannounced Visit

◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Baghdad late Tuesday on an unannounced visit, an Iraqi government source told AFP, cancelling a trip to Germany amid escalating US-Iran tensions. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the high security nature of the visit, said Pompeo was set to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.

Iraq PM to Make First Official Iran Visit Saturday

◢ Iraqi premier Adel Abdel Mahdi will travel to Iran on Saturday, a member of his office said, in his first official visit to the country rivalling Washington for influence over Baghdad. The US reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran's energy and finance sectors last year but has granted Baghdad several exemptions to keep temporarily importing Iranian gas and electricity, crucial to Iraq's faltering power sector.

Iran's Rouhani Meets Iraq's Top Shiite Cleric

◢ Iran's Hassan Rouhani met Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq's Najaf on Wednesday, an AFP photographer reported, in the first encounter between an Iranian president and the country's chief Shiite cleric. Sistani famously called Iraqis to arms against the Islamic State group in 2014, giving rise to the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance, which includes Iran-backed Shiite groups.

Iraq and Iran Build Economic Ties as a Sidelined U.S. Looks On

◢ In the contest for Iraq’s loyalty, geography is proving irresistible. Baghdad is being urged to take sides in the U.S.-Iran confrontation that’s escalated into one of the Middle East’s top flash-points. President Donald Trump is pushing Iraq to stop buying natural gas and electricity from its neighbor. President Hassan Rouhani wants it to purchase more to ease the pain imposed by American sanctions.

Iran Foreign Minister in Baghdad for Talks

◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Sunday for wide-ranging talks, including on US sanctions against Tehran. The visit came just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise stop on his regional tour to urge Iraq to stop relying on Iran for gas and electricity imports.