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What’s Behind Iranian Judiciary Chief’s Iraq Visit?

Alwaght- The chief of Islamic Republic of Iran’s Judiciary Ayatollah Sayyed Ibrahim Raisi visited Iraq on February 8 at an official invitation of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council Faeq Zaydan. Upon his arrival, Raisi visited the site of assassination of the Iran’s top General Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad International Airport at the hands of American forces.

Also during the visit, Ayatollah Raisi visited an exhibition of the achievements of the Iraqi judiciary, which includes the history of the establishment of the Iraqi judiciary in the past centuries, including a series of historical judicial rulings. Following this visit, he met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, President Barham Saleh and Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi. Also, Raisi has put the pilgrimage to the holy shrines in the country on the agenda. In addition, following discussions, the two high-ranking Iranian and Iraqi judicial delegations signed three MoUs on judicial cooperation, inspection, and prisons.

Iraq visit goals

The visit to Iraq by the Islamic Republic’s judiciary chief is of great importance in the current conditions and can be a complement to political and diplomatic actions between Tehran and Baghdad. The judiciary officials have announced clear goals for the trip, which can be summarized in efforts to sign an MoU in judicial system and increase the judicial cooperation in various fields like extradition, fight against smuggling, facilitation of economic regulations, and also fight against terrorism.

“We are leaving for Baghdad at the official invitation of Faeq Zaydan, the Chairman of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council, to promote judicial cooperation and human rights. The purpose is to use the judicial capacity to increase the security of the two countries, pursue the case of the assassination of counter-terrorism commanders, and facilitate economic interactions and to pursue the case of the prisoners,” Ali Bagheri-Kani, the head of the judiciary’s Hugh Council for Human Rights, who also accompanied Ayatollah Raisi in the trip said in a Twitter post. He said from Iraq: “Good news is coming, especially for Iranian and Iraqi businesspeople, and also the families of prisoners.”

Tehran-Baghdad five-point judicial agreement

Specifically, during the bilateral meeting between Ayatollah Seyyed Ibrahim Raisi and Zaydan, a judicial agreement was reached between the two sides on five areas:

1. Diligent pursuit of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis assassination. During the talks, the Iraqi side, while emphasizing the full pursuit of this crime and dealing with all the parties involved in it, gave an account from the investigation to the arrest warrant issued by Iraq to the former Iraq President Donald Trump who directly ordered the drone strike on the two military officials upon their exit from the airport on January 3, 2020.       

2. Judiciary chief highlighted all-out fight against corruption. Fight against corruption should be taken seriously by the governments. Economic growth is like a window that is opened and the inspections are like a mesh. Transparency in the assets and properties of the officials can stand as a deterrence to corruption. Iran said that it is ready to transfer to Iraq its experience of establishing a system that registers the assets of the officials as a measure in the fight against corruption. It also said it is ready to work with Baghdad on extradition.

3- Reaching an important agreement to establish specialized courts to facilitate trade relations between the two countries. It was agreed that with this accord, said the traders and chambers of commerce of Iran and Iraq, the investment process in the two countries will grow considerably by creating a secure milieu for investment.

4. Addressing the status of Iranian women married to Iraqi men. More than 35,000 Iranian women have Iraqi spouses, but their citizenship status is uncertain. The Iranian side seriously pursued their rights in this meeting, and finally, with the agreement reached between the two sides, a joint committee of the Iranian judiciary and foreign ministry as well as Zaydan’s special representative was formed to address the issue as fast as possible.

5. Reaching an agreement on pardoning a considerable number of Iraqi and Iranian prisoners. They agreed that a large number of Iranian prisoners in Iraqi prisons would be granted a presidential pardon and the remaining would be transferred to Iran to serve their jail terms. The Iranian side also said a number of Iraqi prisoners in Iran would be released as Iran marks the Islamic Revolution anniversary. Iran’s Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei has reportedly agreed with the decision.

How this visit strengthens Iran-Iraq ties

Since 2003, Iraq has played a role as a friend, neighbor and even ally in the fight against terrorism. In fact, in recent years, Iran has had special relations with Iraqi officials and citizens in various political, social, economic and cultural fields. Meanwhile, cultural relations between Iran and Iraq are at such a wide and special level that there may be no such relations between any other two countries.

Deep cultural relations between Iran and Iraq are not just a matter of political, diplomatic, or economic action alone. Undoubtedly, in the new conditions, increased judicial area and Tehran’s help for Baghdad to develop its justice system can even further strengthen their bilateral ties. A large number of Iranian and Iraqi citizen travels to the two countries certainly need legal arrangements. Even when it comes to trade and commerce on the borders, the two sides need to take steps towards legal transparency. Therefore, Ayatollah Raisi’s Iraq visit must be regarded as an important move meant to consolidate the friendly ties between Iraq and Iran. 

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