As tensions are rising between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America, most of the Iraqi officials have declared their neutrality and have been playing a mediate role between the country’s two major allies.
Regarding Iraq’s government role amid US-Iran tensions, Avatoday sat down with Intifaz Qanbar, the leader of Constitutional Future Party of Iraq.
Avatoday: political parties and Iraqi officials want to avoid conflicts between US and Iran; can Iraq remain impartial in case of any possible conflict in the Middle East?
Intifaz Qanbar: Iraq cannot be impartial and it would not be able to avoid any conflict if happens, as far as it doesn’t dismantle Iranian-backed militias and paramilitary forces. These forces have been importing a lot of ballistic weapons from Iran into Iraq to be used against neighboring countries and America’s allies in the Arabian Gulf and to threat Israel. Therefore, the impartiality of Iraq would be impossible. There is a land bridge connecting Iran and Syria called ‘land barge’ that is used for the transfer of troops, weapons, and heavy weapons from Iran to Lebanese Hezbollah. It is also obvious that Iran wants to change the center of war from Tehran to Baghdad. They are trying to turn Iraq into a furnace so they would be able to avoid direct confront with the United States.
So Iraqi officials and the nation should evade themselves from this deadly war. Iraq must also get rid of any causes that would lead to such a war, which as I mentioned earlier is the Iranian-backed militias.
The first step should be taken by Prime Minister of Iraq, Adel Abdul Mahdi, by abandoning Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and merge PMF expert forces into the Iraqi army and police forces. He must also clear Iraq from the weapons imported into the country by Iran, especially the deadly ones, and finally the Iraqi government must take control of all the weapons.
Apart from that, Iraqi government must use Iraq’s sovereignty right to protect the country.
Avatoday: Baghdad fears any spark of war between Iran and the United States as a result of some of the PMF groups’ alliance with Iran’s regime; can Iraq control those groups?
Intifaz Qanbar: Iraqi government should seriously deal with this critical case; they must control not only militant groups but also several companies, which are ruling by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iraq and are sanctioned by the US.
Some of the Iranian-backed militants are among the US sanction list, yet they receive salary from the government and all of these actions could lead Iraq to pay a huge price. There are also possibilities that sanctions will soon hit Iraq because of its financial ties with Iran.
Iraqi government should act responsibly, otherwise Iraq would turn into a fireplace.
As I said, Iran doesn’t care about Adel Abdul Mahdi and Iraqi people; Iran doesn’t even care about the security of Iraqi people; but Iran is ready to burn Iraq so it would be able to distance itself from the war.
Unfortunately, I believe it will happen and that we are facing a historic turning point, and the government should take its critical decisions and revokes PMF, either by force or by political leverages. Avoiding the war may take the use of military force for Iraq.
Avatoday: You talked about the cancellation of PMF is there any possibilities that Iran’s Quds force commander, Qasem Suleimani would accept that decision as some of those forces are tied to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?
Intifaz Qanbar: Qasem Suleimani is trying to transfer the war from Iran to Iraq; we all have seen pictures and reports of Qasem Suleimani surrounded by Shiite Arab fighters, Shiite Lebanese fighters, and Shiite Yemenis militias. They use Shiite Arabs in wars; they don’t use Iranians.