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Iraq to mull helping US enforce Iran sanctions: PM

Iraq's new prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 October, 2018

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The country's new prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said he would prioritise Iraq's interests first when deciding whether to help Washington enforce Iran sanctions.
Iraq's new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Thursday that his country would decide whether helping enforce US sanctions on its neighbour Iran is in its own interest, an apparent rebuke of his predecessor's approach.

The US withdrew from the landmark 2015 nuclear accord with Iran signed and negotiated under former President Barack Obama.

Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in May and slapped the first set of sanctions on Tehran soon after, with a second and more crippling set to take effect on 4 November. 

Abdul Mahdi has said these new US sanctions put Baghdad in a tight spot, as Iraq's economy is linked closely to Iran.

"We want to secure Iraq from any interference in issues, affairs of other countries, whether it's a neighbouring country or it's any other country in the world," he said. 

Although the US and Iran are rivals, the two are Iraq's largest allies, making the question of sanctions difficult for Baghdad. 

Abdul Mahdi's predecessor Haider al-Abadi was seen as being more deferential to Washington.

In August, Abadi said that while Baghdad was opposed to sanctions his government would enforce them.

"We consider them a strategic mistake and incorrect but we will abide by them to protect the interests of our people. We will not interact with them or support them but we will abide by them," he said at the time.

Abdul Mahdi's remarks came at his first news conference since becoming prime minister. 

It's not immediately clear whether Abdul Mahdi will seek waivers from Washington to do business with Iran. 

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