FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
attends a news conference in Kirkuk, Iraq,
October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed/File
Iraq won’t take part in any regional or
international conflicts, Prime Minister
Haider al-Abadi told state TV on Saturday.
The comment came after Abadi had spoke in
a phone call with U.S. President Donald
Trump during which tensions with Iran were
mentioned. The call was the first between
the two leaders.
A political commentator close to Abadi,
Ihsan al-Shammari, said Abadi’s comment
addressed the U.S.-Iranian tensions.
Iran has close ties with the Shi’ite
political elite ruling Iraq while Washington
is providing critical military support to
Iraqi forces battling Islamic State.
“Iraq is very keen to preserve its
national interests (..)and does not wish to
be part of any regional or international
conflict which would lead to disasters for
the region and for Iraq,” Abadi said,
according to state TV.
Trump said on Friday that Iranian
President Hassan Rouhani “better be careful”
after the latter was quoted as saying that
anyone who speaks to Iranians with threats
would ”regret it.”
The White House on Friday said Trump and
Abadi “spoke to the threat Iran presents
across the entire region,” in their first
phone call since the inauguration of the
Abadi’s office on Friday also gave a
readout of the phone call that took place
overnight Thursday, without specifically
Both readouts stressed the importance of
their continued cooperation against Islamic
State, as the militants are being pushed
back in Iraq and losing control over Mosul,
the last major city stronghold under their
control in the country.
The United States has more than 5,000
troops deployed in Iraq and is providing air
and ground support in the battle of Mosul.
Iran has also played a major role in the
fight against Islamic State by arming and
training Iraqi Shi’ite groups collectively
known as Popular Mobilization.
“The Iraqi prime minister Dr Abadi is
stressing once again the policy of
neutrality and to steer clear from
conflicts,” political commentator Shammari
told state TV.
The Iraqi readout said Abadi asked Trump
to lift the ban on people from his country
traveling to the United States.
U.S. courts suspended the restrictions
announced end January on entries from Iraq,
Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and
Yemen. Trump has said he will keep trying to
Abadi resisted calls from influential
pro-Iranian Shi’ite politicians to retaliate
against the ban, at a meeting held on Jan.
29, citing Iraq’s need for U.S. military
Washington last week ratcheted up
pressure on Iran, putting sanctions on 13
individuals and 12 entities days after the
White House put Tehran “on notice” over a
ballistic missile test.
Iran’s dominant influence in Iraqi
politics was eroded after Islamic State
routed the Iraqi army commanded then by
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a close ally
of Tehran, in 2014.