Iranian sources: political crises in Tehran between leader and president / political dispute inflicts negative impact on influence in Iraq
By:Asharq al-Awsat – London – March 31, 2016
Iranian and Iraqi political sources informed of conditions inside Iraqi Shiite political parties and groups revealed to Asharq al-Awsat that “Iran is currently facing a major government crisis following the [February] elections after which the reformists gained strength. This has caused a major crisis between Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.”
“My intelligence shows the main reason behind a series of meetings Rouhani intended to have in Iraq and his visits to countries abroad being postponed, were not due to security concerns. In fact, these recent cancellations have been the result of his growing divide with Khamenei, even having him weighing a possible resignation,” said an informed Iraqi politician based in London.
“There is special intelligence showing Khamenei accusing Zarif of being an agent of the West,” he added. “This has raised Khamenei’s anger against the U.S. and lash at all the current presidential candidates.”
Two days ago Khamenei raised major criticism against Hassan Rouhani and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, emphasizing Iran will never back down from enhancing and upgrading its ballistic missile program. The rift between Khamenei and Rouhani following the nuclear deal implementation has escalated significantly as Khamenei has warned about Rouhani’s economic approach and establishing trade relations with Western countries. Recently Khamenei has called for his orders regarding a “resistant economy” to be implemented.
Intelligence from Iran indicates Rouhani postponed his visits to Iraq and Austria due to “delays in his government’s efforts in foreign policy, the nuclear deal and sanctions reliefs” due to the Revolutionary Guards’ ballistic missile test launches.
“Rouhani dispatched a major delegation to Iraq in preparation for his visit scheduled for Saturday, April 1st,” an informed Iranian source said. “Through representatives of the Iraqi Presidency this delegation specified special protocol and political arrangements for the visit. However, Baghdad was caught off guard when the visit was cancelled due to security reservations, whereas the Iraqi party had presented a perfect image to the Iranians about security arrangements.”
Furthermore, the Iranian president had in the final minutes cancelled a visit to Austria due to security reservations. This was two days prior to his scheduled visit to Iraq.
In this regard Iranian media reported Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a senior Khamenei advisor, has been visiting Iraq to express further support for Ammar Hakim, leader of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, at the expense of Sadrist leader Muqtada Sadr.
“Haddad Adel has been in Iraq for the past three days and according to my intelligence he is stationed in a hotel belonging to Ammar Hakim. However, his role is not to support one individual against another. In fact he is in Iraq to keep an eye on developments on the ground, along with Iran insisting the Shiite camp remaining united. This is a reference to the National Alliance,” an Iraqi politician informed of these matters said.
In response to Iran’s engagement with the Sadr revolt in the face of continuing positive relations between Hakeem and Tehran, this Iraqi politician said, “I think the issue is not handled this way. In fact, from Iran’s point of view there is a more important issue at hand than good relations with Hakim and bad relations with Sadr. Signs indicate Hakim has launched a revolt against Iran’s influence, yet his methods are not similar to that of Sadr, who leans towards a more direct face-off. The reason is Hakim had angered the Iranians in the past by saying they should not treat this country like a Lebanese village. This is the reason why Iran has cut off its financial support for the past few months… The reason is that the Iranian supreme leader is growing old and weak, and this has forced Iran to focus on armed Shiite groups, whom are not accepted by the Iraqi people. In the meantime, the positions adopted by Sadr and Hakim are generally nationalist Iraqi positions that are acceptable for the Sunnis and Kurds.”
Iran has had major influence on Iraqi parties and organizations, forming and establishing such entities (Supreme Islamic Council) or religious leaders (the Sadrists, whose supporters mostly follow the instructions of Kazem Haeri, currently stationed in Iran).
“These forces and parties have gained influence in the government through MPs and ministers. This has provided them an adequate financial cover, making them independent of any financial support from Iran,” this Iraqi politician added.