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Rouhani cautions neighboring Iraq against ‘complicated US game,’ foreign meddling in region

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The combined photo shows Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned neighboring Iraq against the consequences of the US’s dual policy on the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, saying the issues facing the region should be resolved at the hands of its own countries, free from foreign interference.

In a phone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Tuesday, Rouhani said the US is pursuing a double-standard policy on the campaign against terrorism in the region, and that its performance on the Iraqi and Syrian borders run counter to regional interests.

Rouhani was apparently referring to the recent US raids against positions of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the border areas of Iraq and Syria, where the counter-terrorism forces were fighting the remnants of the Takfiri Daesh terror group in coordination with Baghdad and Damascus.

“We are witnessing that the Americans are playing a complicated game in Iraq these days, and it is natural that such policies will not help bring security and stability to Iraq and will instead complicate the situation there,” he added.

He said the US has always played a destructive role in the region, reiterating Iran’s objection to any foreign interference in the domestic affairs of regional countries.

“Regional problems must be solved at the hands of the countries of the region,” he said.

Pointing to the great commonalities between the two nations, Rouhani added that Tehran attaches special significance to the promotion of Iraq’s stability, security, independence and territorial integrity.

“We regard Iraq’s security and stability as our own and support the presence of this neighboring Muslim country in regional interactions,” the Iranian president stated.

He pointed to the high capacity for bilateral cooperation in economic and trade fields, urging both sides to implement previous agreements, including the important Shalamcheh-Basra railway project, and to develop a roadmap for economic and trade cooperation.

The Iraqi prime minister, for his part, hailed “very friendly” and “strong” relations between the two countries and called for joint efforts to consolidate bilateral and regional cooperation.

Kadhimi also appreciated the Iranian government and people for supporting Iraq in its fight against terrorism and Daesh, and for contributing to the establishment of peace, stability and security in his country.

The phone conversation followed a deadly bombing that ripped through a busy market in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday. Daesh claimed responsibility for the terror attack, which left at least 35 people dead and over 60 others wounded.

Backed by Iran, Iraq put an end to Daesh’s territorial rule on its soil in late 2017, more than three years after the terror group emerged in the Arab country and captured swaths of land in its western and northern parts.

However, Daesh sleeper cells have continued to launch terror attacks against security forces and civilians from time to time. The latest bombing, one of the largest since the victory against Daesh, signaled a significant rise in the strength of the remaining terrorists in Iraq, which are widely believed to have the support of the United States.

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