Iraqi PM says Soleimani was supposed to deliver reply to Saudi message
(January 5, 2020) — On Thursday night, the US assassinated top Iranian Gen. Qassam Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport. His arrival was actually part of ongoing diplomatic efforts, according to Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Soleimani’s visit was related to well-documented Saudi Arabia attempts at diplomacy to ease tensions with Iran. The Saudis had dispatched a message of peace to Iran, with Iraq acting as an intermediary. Soleimani was coming to Iraq to deliver the Iranian government’s reply.
The US assassination, then, undercut the peace effort to an enormous level. Iraq was keen to facilitate peace between its two neighbors, hopefully to calm down US threats against Iran. Instead, the US undercut the entire process.
It’s not clear this totally ends the Saudi effort for peace, though it may be difficult for Iran to safely get messengers into Baghdad in the near future, with the US rather openly threatening more assassinations. Since peace overtures were the Saudi “plan B” after the US didn’t attack Iran, they may no longer bother, given the rapidly escalating military tensions.
Soleimani Was to Deliver Tehran’s Reply to Saudi De-escalation Letter When Killed: Iraqi PM
(January 5, 2020) — Iraq’s Caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has said that Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was set to deliver Tehran’s reply to an earlier Saudi message regarding de-escalation talks mediated by Baghdad when he was assassinated.
Abdul-Mahdi made the remarks during an extraordinary parliamentary session in the capital which led to the adoption of a law demanding the withdrawal of US forces from the country on Sunday, the National Iraqi News Agency reported.
The premier said that he was due to meet Soleimani at 8:30 am local time on Friday before the US assassinated the general a few hours earlier.
The revelations come as Baghdad has been mediating talks between Tehran and Riyadh following a recent uptick of tensions the region.
Sunday’s parliamentary vote was held in response to Washington’s Friday airstrikes targeting Soleimani and his comrades.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) was also killed in the attack.
Iran’s judiciary has said that the attack took place despite Soleimani being a “formal” and “high profile” guest of the Iraqi government.
The Sunday vote comes as many Iraqi figures and parliamentary factions have been long demanding the withdrawal of US troops from the country, specifically following a series of unclaimed airstrikes on PMU forces.
Abdul-Mahdi also revealed in his Sunday remarks that Washington had confirmed to Baghdad that Tel Aviv was behind a number of the attacks.
“America informed us that Israel bombed the warehouses of the PMU last summer,” he said, calling on the parliament to take all measures to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq.
Rockets Rock Baghdad’s Green Zone
Also on Sunday, the Iraqi military reported that three Katyusha rockets fell in Baghdad, two of which landed inside the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone housing government buildings and foreign missions.
Witnesses told AFP that the rockets had landed close to the US embassy without further elaborating on probable casualties.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
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