Ali Akbar Velayati made these comments after a meeting with Nouri al-Maliki, vice president of Iraq’s Islamic Dawa Party, and it is likely that most Iraqis didn’t give it too much thought. Having endured many hardships over the past decade, they are likely fed up with foreign affairs issues, even in their immediate area.
But one thing that may have riled Iraqis up was Velayati’s statement that “the Islamic awakening will not allow the return of communists and liberals to power”.
The former foreign minister for Iran, Velayati should have been more than aware that it is not diplomatic to interfere in the internal affairs of a country during an official visit, especially when that country is preparing for elections.
Velayati visited Iraq in an official capacity to attend a non-political event – he was invited by the Parliamentary Endowments and Religious Affairs Committee to help set up a centre for rapprochement between Islamic sects – so he should not have made a political statement.
Adnan Hussein, the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists, wrote: “The tone of Velayati’s remarks smacked of blatant interventionism. It seemed a clear incitement against some candidates contesting the elections, namely the communists and the liberals.”
Indeed, over the past 14 years, those who have ruled Iran have been overwhelmingly Islamist and enjoyed a close relationship with Iran, but their rule has damaged Iraq and left voters looking for alternatives (i.e. communists and the liberals) and many Islamist parties have changed their rhetoric to reflect a more democratic leaning.
Velayati must know that this is happening because Iran views Iraq as their proxy state and are increasingly obsessed with its political affairs and so one can only assume that it was intentional. Iran fear that non-Islamist leaders will put Iraq out of Iran’s influence and thus are trying to stop it.
Iran is hardly one to respect the independence of other nation states, why else would it support proxy militias and the destabilisation of the Middle East? In that respect, we should not be surprised that this comment was made.
Of course, it is worth noting that if an Iraqi official had visited Iran during the recent uprising, then Iran would not have accepted the advice of heeding the demands of the demonstrators.