Rouhani calls for Iran-Iraq strategy to counter US attacks

Iran and Iraq should evolve a joint strategy to counter aggression and interference by the US forces, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said to his Iraqi counterpart in a phone call late on Sunday.

Rouhani’s appeal to President Barham Salih came hours after Tehran decided to further ignore restrictions over a nuclear deal with Europe in the wake of the killing of its top commander Lt Gen Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack at Baghdad airport last Friday.

Earlier in the day, Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Iran-allied Hezbollah movement, told a rally in Lebanon that the killing of Gen Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, a key Shia leader and founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah militia in Iraq, is a matter of concern not only for Iran and Iraq but also for all countries and groups that support them.

The martyrdom of Gen Qasem Soleimani and Mohandes and his companions have united Iran and Iraq as never before, Rouhani said.

Appreciating the Iraqi move to evict the remaining US troops from its soil, he said it will help in promoting stability, security and unity in the region.

Iraqis and Iranians will stand as one while their governments take steps to further strengthen the ties between the two nations, Rouhani said.
In Lebanon, Nasrallah said the killing of Gen Soleimani and Mohandes will open a new phase not only for Iraq or Iran but for the entire region.

While avenging Soleimani, only US soldiers, military bases and ships should be targeted. Any attack on US civilians will boost President Donald Trump‘s chances of getting re-elected, Nasrallah said.

Iran pulls back from nuclear deal

The Iranian cabinet which met on Sunday announced that it would ignore uranium enrichment limits and go ahead with its nuclear programme, IRNA reported.

Citing the ‘fifth and final remedial step’ under the nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that there will no longer be any restriction on number of centrifuges.

All the five steps are reversible, he said, adding that Iran would fully cooperate with IAEA.

Iran had been facing financial problems ever since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on it.

Efforts by other signatories to the deal, France, the UK and Germany to persuade the US to re-join the deal and help out Iran failed.

US-Iran ties worsened after Tehran was accused of attacking oil tankers passing through the Gulf of Oman.

The downing of a US surveillance drone by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Strait of Hormuz or inside Iranian air space, the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar at the “behest of the US” and the attack on Saudi oil fields allegedly by Iran pushed the US and Iran to the brink of war.

Last week’s storming of the US embassy in Baghdad by a section of the Iranian-backed militias trapping diplomats inside prompted Trump to eliminate Gen Soleimani.