EghtesadOnline: Baghdad would benefit greatly from de-escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West, and the Iraqi premier's recent visit to Iran was apparently aimed at achieving this goal, a political analyst said.
"It seems that the Iraqi prime minister’s recent visit was mainly aimed at contributing to the defusion of tensions between the Iranian government and the governments in London and Washington," Ali Akbar Asadi also told ISNA in a recent interview.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, accompanied by a multi-sectoral delegation, visited Tehran on July 22 to discuss bilateral ties and latest developments in the region with Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani.
The visit came days after a war of words escalated between Iran and the West over Tehran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz, which followed Britain's seizure on July 4 of the Iranian tanker Grace 1 off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar, according to Financial Tribune.
Iran says Stena Impero had collided with a fishing vessel and ignored distress calls, while London has accused Iran of taking oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions against the war-hit Arab country. Both sides deny any wrongdoing.
"A rise in tensions over this issue will have widespread repercussions for the region. That is why regional and international efforts are being made to ease tensions and prevent a negative impact on energy transit in this region," Asadi, an expert on Iraqi affairs, said.
Baghdad is also seeking to help improve the situation to ensure the security of its oil exports, he added.
Iraq is one of Iran's strongest allies in the region, but also has close ties with the UK and the US, creating a difficult position for Baghdad if the situation deteriorates, but an ideal position if it could help deescalate tensions.
Iraq has an interest in ensuring smooth tanker passage through the region to keep its own oil flowing through its main export terminal in Basra.
The analyst says any improvement in Tehran-Washington ties would serve Iraqi interests because it could lead to an increase in the volume of trade between Iraq and the Islamic Republic, which has been affected by renewed US sanctions against Iran.
"Efforts have been made by European countries, Japan, Oman and Iraq to help resolve tensions between Iran and the United States, but Iraq's efforts are especially important," Asadi said, adding that Baghdad is exploring ways to help reduce US economic pressure on Iran while working toward de-escalation of tensions.