A secret deal between the U.S. and Iran has paved the way for Mustafa al-Kadhimi to become Iraq’s Prime Minister, the Middle East Eye reported on March 14 citing an Iraqi political source with knowledge on the matter.
The source told the UK-based outlet the U.S. policy of exerting “maximum pressure” on Iran will not change. However, Washington agreed under the secret deal to de-escalate militarily in the Gulf and to “look the other way” if a third-party country in Europe released some of Iran’s frozen money.
In return, Iran told Shiite factions in Iraq to approve al-Kadhimi as the country’s new Prime Minister, which they did in the parliament on May 7.
“The Americans managed to get their man, and the Iranians to get their money,” a source told the Middle East Eye, adding “The economic hardship that Iranians have faced, and all the difficulties they faced after the assassination of Qassam Soleimani, has hit them hard. There were negotiations. The deal ended with the Iranians accepting this guy [Kadhimi] and they told their allies to vote for him.”
Al-Kadhimi, a former director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS), is well-known for his close ties with U.S. intelligence.
His candidacy for the premiership was challenged by Shiite factions prior to the U.S.-Iran deal. Iran-affiliated Kata’ib Hezbollah even accused al-Kadhimi of taking part in the U.S. drone strike which killed Iran Quds Force commander Qassam Soleimani and Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
According to the Middle East Eye, Iraqi sources declined to reveal the Iranian assets which would be unfrozen under the new deal. However, they pointed to a decision by a court in Luxembourg to block a U.S. request to transfer $1.6bn in Iranian assets to victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Iran welcomed the decision, which was taken last month, calling it a victory. It remains unclear, however, if any of the frozen assets were later released.
Secret deals between the U.S. and Iran are nothing new. Nevertheless, the deal on Iraq, if true, highlights the failure of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran.