Jabri may be correct, as Iraq doesn’t appear to be succumbing to attempts to undermine Iran’s influence. In fact, on April 19, Tehran appointed Iraj Masjedi as the new Iranian ambassador to Baghdad. Masjedi, who was warmly welcomed by Iraq’s Shiite political forces, is controversial because of his military background and close ties with Shiite PMU leaders.
Sabhan, the ousted ambassador to Iraq who is now Saudi minister of state for Gulf affairs, made scathing comments against Masjedi, accusing him of being an “internationally wanted war criminal.”
Abdel Hadi al-Saadawi, a parliament member with the National Alliance, also told Al-Monitor he does not believe the attempts to distance Baghdad from Tehran will be successful.
“I believe there is a special relationship between the two countries, with a major common denominator among most Iraqis and Iranians, which is the Shiite doctrine. Iran is also the main supporter of Iraq in the face of terrorism, unlike Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, [which are] accused of supporting armed factions in Iraq and view [Iraq] as being ruled by Shiites,” Saadawi added.
It seems that Iraq’s Shiite forces and political parties, namely those close to Iran, are enthusiastic about the idea of mediating between Riyadh and Tehran, to stem the increased likelihood of clashes as a result of the May 2 comments of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He said, “We are going to Iran and will not allow it to bring the battle to us.” Such a move could turn Iraq into an arena of confrontation.