On July 19, outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid his last official presidential visit to Iraq, where he was received by Iraqi Vice President Khodair al-Khozaei.
Ahmadinejad’s first visit to Iraq in 2008 was of significant importance for Iranian and Iraqi parties, as well as for the US, which was holding talks with Iran at the time about Iraq and other issues. Back then, he was received by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani accompanied by then-Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and a number of other senior Iraqi officials.
Ali al-Moussawi, adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, described Ahmadinejad’s visit as “a symbolic visit on the occasion of the end of his term, and it will be devoted to the visit of holy sites.” He added, “We do not expect that there will be any formal agreements.”
Moussawi also announced a planned visit by Iran’s incoming President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq, and expressed hope that a new chapter will start with Iran on the basis of common interests and mutual respect.
At the diplomatic level, this rhetoric conveys dissatisfaction toward Iran’s policies on Iraq under Ahmadinejad. What’s more, the anti-Iraqi government forces have expressed that Ahmadinejad is not welcome in Iraq. It is worth mentioning that the visit was scheduled to take place a year ago but was postponed several times due to the illness of President Talabani, according to a statement by Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araghchi.
Key talks were held during this visit between the two parties on Syrian affairs, according to Iran’s al-Alam news channel. This was confirmed by several political figures from the major blocs in the Iraqi parliament, including the Kurdistan Alliance and the Iraqiya List.