Numerous signs and messages carried by the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi to Tehran, especially with what was described as his insistence on completing this visit at this particular time, before the Iraqi elections.
On Sunday, September 12, 2021, Al-Kazemi visited Iran on an official visit, which was announced suddenly, after the Baghdad Conference summit ended at the end of last month.
Al-Kazemi’s visit to Tehran comes at a very important and sensitive time, as Iraq is on the cusp of parliamentary elections, which will be held within weeks, specifically on next October 10, and it is rumored that Prime Minister Al-Kazemi, who took office in May 2020, aspires to take over a mandate a second.
Private sources revealed to “Arabi Post” what was going on behind the scenes of this visit, and what was agreed upon.
The timing of the visit was wrong
The visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, to Tehran, ahead of the Iraqi parliamentary elections, came loaded with many signs and messages, most of which were interpreted inside Iraq as an attempt by the Prime Minister to obtain Iranian support, to assume a second term as prime minister.
A source close to Mustafa Al-Kazemi, who was one of his companions on this visit, told “Arabi Post”, on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the issue: “Al-Kazemi made the decision to visit Iraq himself, without consulting anyone close to him or his advisors.”
The source added, “The timing was a mistake, and a big mistake, of course. Everyone inside and outside Iraq interpreted the visit as an attempt to obtain Iranian support before the elections in October. We told him about this, and we also told him what is the use of the visit, if there are issues.” It is necessary to contact the officials in Tehran, but he refused.”
At the same time, one of the prime minister’s senior advisers described the visit as important, and told “Arabi Post” that there were many common issues that should have been discussed with the new Iranian administration, which some interpreted as revolving around the elections, “Al-Kazemi has repeatedly stated that he will not He will run for himself in the next elections.
Al-Kazemi’s meeting with the new Iranian president
As soon as Al-Kazemi arrived in the Iranian capital, he was received by the newly elected Iranian President, Ibrahim Raisi, and held his first meetings with him.
Al-Kazemi is considered the first regional official to visit and meet the new Iranian president, Ibrahim Raisi.
A source from the Iranian side familiar with the progress of the meeting between Al-Kazemi and my boss told “Arabi Post” that “the meeting between Raisi and Al-Kazemi was primarily economic, so Al-Kazemi came with a high-ranking economic and political delegation to discuss many outstanding issues between the two countries.”
According to the same source, Al-Kazemi discussed with my chief the issue of settling Iraqi debts to Iran, because of its accumulation, Iran stopped supplying Iraq with energy and electricity, and the value of these Iraqi debts owed to the Islamic Republic amounted to about six billion dollars, which Baghdad has not repaid so far, according to the Iranian source.
The source also added that the issue of the railway connection was discussed, which is the project that Iran proposed to Iraq, explaining: “There were doubts on the Iranian side about Al-Kazemi’s seriousness to agree to this big project, because so far he has not given explicit approval on the matter.”
It is worth noting that the railway project between Iran and Iraq was supposed to be started since last July, which would link the Iranian city of Shalamcheh with the Iraqi city of Basra, to link Iraq with the port of “Imam Khomeini”, located on the Iranian side, from the waters of Iraq. The Gulf, with the Syrian port of Latakia in the Mediterranean.
A source close to Al-Kazemi told Arab Post: “Al-Kazemi had agreed to the matter verbally and in principle, but the execution order was disrupted due to the impact of the railway connection on the Faw port.”
According to the same source, this project proposed by the Iranian side will negatively affect the port of Faw, which is used to enter imports into Iraq, and provides many job opportunities for young people, but if the railway connection project is completed, ships and commercial vessels will go to Iranian ports at first. Then its goods come to Iraq, which affects the price increase in Iraq.
Al-Kazemi’s hesitation in fully agreeing to this project angered Iranian officials, and a source in the Iranian government familiar with Ibrahim Raisi’s meeting with Al-Kazemi told “Arab Post” that Al-Kazemi’s hesitation stems from his desire to complete the new Sham project with Jordan and Egypt.
But after the last meeting between the Iraqi prime minister and the Iranian president, it seems that this dispute is fading, and the government source from the Iranian side tells “Arabi Post” that the matter has been settled, and the railway project between Iran and Iraq will be worked on and completed as soon as possible. .
The source contented himself with emphasizing the resolution of the dispute, without going into the details of the issue of the new Levant project between Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.
On his recent visit to the Iranian capital, Tehran, the Iraqi Prime Minister met with a number of Iranian security officials, led by General Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
A security source from the Iranian side, familiar with this meeting, told “Arabi Post”, on condition of anonymity, because he is not authorized to speak to the media: “Mr. Shamkhani and his Iraqi guest Al-Kazemi discussed several joint security files between the two countries, on top of which was the continuation of Iranian-Saudi negotiations, and an attempt to avoid a direct confrontation between Washington and Tehran.
According to the same source, the file of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which held several previous rounds of dialogue, in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, under the auspices of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, and had been suspended until the new administration assumed power in Iran, this issue will be in the hands of the Supreme Security Council. The entire Iranian nation.
During the administration of former President Hassan Rouhani, which participated in the talks before handing over the administration, the matter was shared between the Iranian security authorities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by the former Iranian diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Iranian security source tells “Arabi Post”, that “Shamkhani and Al-Kazemi agreed to hold the new round of Iranian-Saudi talks, in the coming weeks, and coordination took place between Iranian security leaders and Al-Kazemi, for an indirect meeting with US officials.”
According to the security source from the Iranian side, it is possible that the Iraqi prime minister will play a new mediation role between Iran and the United States, by working to arrange an indirect meeting between Iranian and American security officials, to resolve many outstanding issues between the two countries, foremost of which is the issue of nuclear negotiations. In Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which has stalled since June 20, just two days after Ebrahim Raisi won the presidential election.
Another file, no less important than the ones mentioned above, which the Iraqi Prime Minister discussed with Iranian leaders, during his short visit to the Islamic Republic, was the recent tensions between Iran and the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq.
Most recently, the Islamic Republic has been attacked by separatist Iranian Kurds, who have taken Iraqi Kurdistan as a safe haven. In response, Iranian artillery and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps bombed several positions of the Iraqi Kurdish parties, claiming that they sheltered Iranian Kurdish opponents.
During Al-Kazemi’s visit to Iran, the Iraqi armed factions loyal to Iran targeted Erbil International Airport in conjunction with the targeting of Iranian forces to border areas with the Kurdistan region.
This issue was raised during Al-Kazemi’s meeting with the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, General Ali Shamkhani, and according to a security source from the Iranian side, who spoke to “Arabi Post”, Shamkhani informed Al-Kazemi of the Islamic Republic’s concern about the Iraqi security lax, the failure to secure the Iraqi-Iranian border and recent events. Al-Kazemi tried to defend the Iraqi Kurdish parties, and asked the Iranian side to calm down to ensure that the Iraqi parliamentary elections did not go off track.
The security source from the Iranian side told Arab Post: “Al-Kazemi offered many guarantees to resolve this crisis with the Iraqi Kurdish side, but Iran is waiting for implementation, and will not back down in targeting terrorists who resort to Iraqi Kurdistan for protection,” as he put it.
Not meeting the Iranian Supreme Leader
Since the overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, it has been customary for the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to receive any Iraqi prime minister during his visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ali Khamenei had previously received Al-Kazemi, but This time, Al-Kazemi did not meet with Iran’s supreme leader.
A source close to Al-Kazemi, who accompanied him on his visit to Tehran, told Arab Post: “It was strange, of course, but it could be related to the restrictions of the Corona virus, frankly, we were not told the real reason why Mr. Khamenei did not meet with Al-Kazemi this time.”
According to the same source, the Iranian Supreme Leader has sent an envoy on his behalf personally, to deliver Al-Kazemi his message and inform him of some matters.
But the real reason why Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, did not meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, was also the timing of the visit.
A source close to the office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told “Arabi Post” that the timing of the visit is very sensitive, and a lot of gossip has been raised about it, so Mr. “, According to him.
According to the source close to Khamenei’s office, the latter sent a message through his personal envoy to Al-Kazemi, which the source described as very positive, saying that Khamenei believes that Al-Kazemi has recently proven his worth, especially in his attempts to play a regional role and pave the way between Iran and its opponents.
He added, “I will not say that he agrees to a second term for Al-Kazemi or not, but I can only say that Mr. Khamenei’s view of Al-Kazemi is very positive, with evidence that he largely agreed to all of Al-Kazemi’s demands that he sent to Khamenei before.”
The source from the Iranian side did not disclose the content of the message sent by the Iranian Supreme Leader to Al-Kazemi, nor did he address the demands that Khamenei agreed to in favor of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi.
In the end, one of Al-Kazemi’s companions on his visit to Tehran described this short visit as very successful, telling “Arabi Post” that despite the timing and the rumors surrounding the visit, Al-Kazemi is happy with the results of this visit.