Jordan says region must protect Iraq from external interference

For years Baghdad has been caught in the middle of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington

Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Ayman Safadi speaks during a session at the Manama Dialogue security conference in the Bahraini capital on December 5, 2020.  / AFP / Mazen Mahdi

The Middle East must stand together to protect Iraq from the repercussions of external interference, Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Saturday.

Baghdad has been caught in the middle of rising tensions between Tehran and Washington since US President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw from an international nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions.

“What we see in Iraq is a government that is seeking to rebuild after years of conflict; its success is pivotal for the whole region,” Mr Al Safadi said during the annual Manama Dialogue security conference, organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“If we risk the stability of Iraq, we risk the stability of the region,” he said.

Tensions between Iran and the US heightened when American forces killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Suliemani, in January.

Iran responded with a ballistic missile attack on a base in western Iraq where US troops were present. No Americans were killed but more than 100 suffered mild traumatic brain injuries from the blasts.

US embassy and military bases hosting American troops have come under numerous attacks since the killing of Suleimani.

“We need to help the Iraqi government in reconstitution. We need to make sure Iraq is not a battleground for international agendas,” Mr Safadi said.

“We must bring about tangible improvements. We need to speak one language,” he said.

Providing additional detail, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein spoke after Mr Safadi and said that Baghdad needs all the assistance it can get to ensure that stability and security are established following years of conflict.

“Iraq is facing many challenges, in the health and security sectors,” he said.

“The government is determined to fulfil its responsibilities to reassert the prestige of the state and the rule of law."

The Iraqi official said resolving the conflicts the region has faced must be a “basic priority to achieve stability”.