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Rouhani’s Iraq visit raises important questions for Israel

Does Israel see Rouhani's visit to Iraq as strengthening his hand in Iran? One answer could be that while Rouhani was in Baghdad, hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi was elected deputy chief of the Assembly of Experts.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference with Iraq's President Barham Salih (not pictured) at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani - RC1E8AE10620

This week, Israel, Lebanon and Kuwait will be hosting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on what will be yet another drive by the Donald Trump administration to push back against Iran’s “maligned” regional interests. This visit comes on the heels of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Iraq last week, one of whose goals is to do what the United States opposes: expand relations with regional countries, namely Iraq.

For Israel, one of the main questions from Rouhani’s visit to Iraq in general, and his unprecedented audience in Najaf with top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in particular, will be whether it will strengthen the hands of Iranian moderates in Iranian domestic politics.

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