Iranian-Saudi agreement on Iraq may be near

Al-Monitor reports: A UN diplomatic source in Beirut told Al-Monitor that an Iranian-Saudi agreement on the formation of the next Iraqi government was almost done. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that the visit by the Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdul Lahian to Saudi Arabia on Aug. 26 was the move that crowned the agreement.

The source said that some felt a few weeks ago that removing Nouri al-Maliki from the Iraqi Prime Ministry and designating Haider al-Abadi on Aug.11 was the final sign of a Tehran-Riyadh agreement on Baghdad. But this impression was not true.

According to the diplomatic source, the move followed mutual attempts by the two parties to raise their negotiating ceilings. For its part, Iran tried to harden its stance for known reasons; it gave the impression that removing Maliki happened more because of internal Iraqi Shiite calculations linked to the position of Shiite cleric Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, rather than a Shiite concession to the Sunnis or an Iranian concession to Saudi Arabia in Iraq. These calculations include compensating Maliki’s removal by strengthening his and his team’s position in governing and in the next government, as well as getting paid by the Sunni-Saudi team as a compensation. [Continue reading…]

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