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Hundreds protest in Baghdad against Iranian general’s visit

Qassem Soleimani
Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran on September 18, 2016

Hundreds of Iraqis have protested in central Baghdad against the visit of Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani to their country. With their chants of “Iran, out, out” they expressed the popular desire for Iran to stop interfering in Iraq’s domestic affairs.

The demonstrators demanded that Soleimani — who commands the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — should liberate the occupied city of Jerusalem instead of destabilising the security of Iraq and Syria.

Soleimani arrived in Iraq on Saturday, when the country held its first legislative elections in years. He is holding talks with Iraqi politicians in Baghdad to promote the formation of a new Iraqi government with Iran’s approval. “Soleimani is discussing with rival politicians to pave the way for agreement on the formation of a ruling Shia coalition,” said one source who mediates between Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr and other senior politicians.

Read: Iran’s Soleimani playing role in Iraq government formation

The formal talks to form a governing coalition in Iraq will begin after the declaration of the final election results next week. Iran announced before the Iraqi people went to the polls that it will not allow Sadr’s pluralist bloc to rule.

Two days ago, Sadr, whose Saeiron bloc is apparently leading in the polls, announced that he intends to form a government of technocrats.

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