BAGHDAD: Iraq’s foreign minister said Wednesday that international assistance in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group should respect the country’s sovereignty.
“We cannot accept that Iraq is becoming a land of conflict but we have to solve this problem in a way that preserves Iraqi sovereignty,” Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a news conference.
When asked about a comment in which the commander of Iran’s ground forces last week vowed to protect his own border “deep into Iraqi territory” if necessary, Jaafari said Iranian support was welcome.
“Iran has provided assistance to Iraq, as have some other countries. This is not a secret and we have to thank them for it,” he said.
Iran has been a close ally of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government and Jaafari spent a whole decade in exile there when Baghdad was under Saddam Hussein’s rule.
Critics have questioned the legal basis and motives for Iran’s participation in the government’s military efforts against the jihadists, who have conquered swathes of Iraq since June.
Iranian troops have been posted on the Iraqi side of the border in the south of Kurdistan while Tehran is also reported to play a key role in training and running some of Iraq’s Shiite militias.