Ghaani’s trip to Baghdad, if it actually happened, may foreshadow more Iranian moves against the US. The US is gripped by crises, pandemic and protests, and Iran may see an opening.
Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Esmail Ghaani was in Iraq this week as part of Iran’s coordinated efforts to oust US forces from the region, according to reports. Al-Arabiya and other media suggested his visit was timed to coincide with a visit by Iran’s energy minister to seal a deal with Iraq to continue supplying energy to Baghdad.
Esmail Ghaani, an expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan who took the place of Qasem Soleimani after the latter was eviscerated by a US missile in January, has struggled to show leadership in his role with the IRGC. He went to Iraq in April and his visit was not well received.
Iraq has a new prime minister who is struggling to rein in security forces and also deal with ISIS insurgents.
Ghaani is not well liked by the Arabic-speaking members of some factions of the Hashd al-Shaabi, the powerful pro-Iranian militias in Iraq. Yet he wants to unify these factions with the help of a member of Hezbollah named Sheikh Mohamed Kawtharani and Abu Fadak, a key leader of the Hashd.
Not everything is known about what has happened in Iraq over the last six months a the country lurches from crisis to crisis and as Iran and the United Stated appeal for hearts and minds. The country is poor, divided, and full of protesters and a new ISIS insurgency. Its divided security forces mean no one has clear control.
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