Iraqis Divided over Soleimani's Role

On May 6, groups of civilians drove around the province of Basra waving the Iranian flag from their cars.

It should be noted that prior to the events of June 10, 2014, when IS fighters took control of Mosul, many Iraqis did not know Soleimani. He started attracting attention when Iran announced its support for Iraq's fight against IS in mid-2014. The move raised the ire of Vice President Ayad Allawi, who said in March, "Iraqis do not need Soleimani's presence on the battlefield under the pretext of supervising the battles against IS."

In reaction to the raising of the Iranian flag in the predominantly Shiite province of Basra and Sunni-dominated Adhamiya, a number of activists in the province of Basra organized a protest against the raising of the Iranian flag in their province, fighting back by hoisting the Iraqi flag.

Asked to comment on the appearance of the Iranian flag in Iraqi cities, Majid al-Gharawi, an Iraqi parliamentarian for the Sadrist movement, whose followers chanted slogans against Soleimani in Baghdad during the demonstrations against the Iraqi government, told Al-Monitor, "In Iraq, only the Iraqi flag that represents the Iraqi state should be raised. Iraq is a sovereign country, and no other flag should be raised."

He added, "There are people who want to underestimate Iraqi sovereignty, and we will not accept this. We are a sovereign country that everyone should respect so long as we respect everyone. We will face any act aimed at weakening and undermining our sovereignty."

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