After Blinken visited Iraq, militias aligned with Iran targeted the Ain Al Asad base in Anbar province with mortar shells. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq – Al-Zafirin Group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Monday, 6 November, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani embarked on a regional tour, starting with his arrival in Tehran. His visit to Iran and the Gulf countries aims to address the ongoing developments in Gaza amidst Israel’s persistent aggression.

Sudani has met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Sudani’s visit to Iran aims at preventing Iraq from a possible regional war in the wake of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, as well as delivering a message from the United States that Tehran should deter the Iraqi militias aligned with Iran from launching attacks of military bases hosting the US and the international coalition personnel, according to governmental sources speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab’s Arabic sister website. 

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during an unannounced visit to Iraq on Sunday, met with Sudani in Baghdad. 

Speaking to the reporters, Blinken threatened the US would take all measures to protect their forces in Iraq and that neither Iran nor its proxies in Iraq should “seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region.” Meanwhile, he said the US is not looking for conflict with Iran.

During a joint conference with Raisi in Tehran, Iraq’s PM announced that the international community has failed to fulfil its duties towards the people of Gaza, who have been massacred by Israel since 7 October, according to the state-run Iraqi News Agency (INA).

He also confirmed Iraq’s efforts to achieve a ceasefire, condemning the systematic killings and atrocities in Gaza and the West Bank. He criticised the international community for not taking decisive action.

The Iranian president also said they think that the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza should cease without delay, an immediate ceasefire should be implemented, and essential assistance should be extended to the resilient and oppressed people of Gaza.

According to Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Khamenei has “appreciated Iraq’s firm stance in supporting the people of Gaza”, emphasising the importance of increasing political pressure from the Muslim world on the US and Israel to halt the ongoing massacres in Gaza and protect its people.

“From the very first days of the Zionist regime’s aggression against Gaza, all the evidence showed the direct involvement of the Americans in managing the war,” Khamenei was also quoted by IRNA as saying.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq can play a role and exert their influence by coordinating with each other to put an end to the Zionist regime’s crimes in the coastal enclave”, he added.

On the other hand, Iraqi political and security analyst Muayyad Al-Juhayshi told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Sudani faces challenges in controlling all armed factions in Iraq, especially those not aligned with his government and lacking political representation in the ruling Coordination Framework.

He highlights that Sudani is aware of the dangers of a military escalation by these factions against US forces in Iraq; thus, he aims to prevent such escalation, as it could trigger a significant military response from the US, potentially turning Iraq into a battlefield with far-reaching economic and policy implications.

 “Sudani will ask Iranian officials to pressure the pro-Iranian factions to halt any military escalation against American targets and interests, whether in Iraq or Syria. Tehran might respond, as it also does not want direct conflict with Washington,” Al-Juhayshi said.

Abu Ali Al-Askari, the head of the security office at Iraq’s Kata’ib Hezbollah, on Sunday, threatened they would respond with unprecedented actions and escalations if the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, visited Iraq. 

Furthermore, Al-Askari pledged that the Iraqi resistance would actively work towards undermining US interests in Iraq and the broader region and would shut down the US embassy in Iraq through “our non-peaceful means.” 

With the arrival of Blinken to Baghdad, prominent Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to urgently gather at Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to peacefully protest against the visit to Iraq.  
After Blinken visited Iraq, militias aligned with Iran targeted the Ain Al Asad base in Anbar province with mortar shells. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq – Al-Zafirin Group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Another topic of Sudani’s visit to Iran was developing joint economic relations, particularly in infrastructure projects, including the Basra-Shalamja railroad, border economic zones, and Iraq’s Roate of Development.

Additionally, Sudani noted the success of the Iraq-Iran Joint Security Committee in managing border areas and removing sources of tension that could threaten the security of both countries.

Iraq hopes to complete its first railway link with neighbouring Iran within 18 months, primarily to help facilitate the transport of millions of pilgrims that visit Shia Muslim shrines in Iraq each year, a senior transport adviser said.

The roughly 30-kilometre (18.64 miles) line will run between Iraq’s southern city of Basra and the Iranian border town of Shalamja, linking nations with ties that have deepened since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, after which pro-Tehran Shia Muslim parties enhanced their influence in Baghdad.