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Iraq Wants to Mediate in Crisis Between US and Iran

In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers

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Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaks during a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim in Baghdad, May 26, 2019. VOA

Iraq offered Sunday to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.

Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed al-Hakim, made the offer during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“We are trying to help and to be mediators,” said al-Hakim, adding that Baghdad “will work to reach a satisfactory solution” while stressing that Iraq stands against unilateral steps taken by Washington.

In recent weeks, tensions between Washington and Tehran soared over America deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf over a still-unexplained threat it perceives from Tehran. The U.S. also plans to send 900 additional troops to the 600 already in the Mideast and extending their stay.

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Iraq offered Sunday to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran. Pixabay

The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year of America from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that capped Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in return to lifting sanctions. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.

Trump has argued that the deal failed to sufficiently curb Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons or halt its support for militias throughout the Middle East that the U.S. says destabilize the region, as well as address the issue of Tehran’s missiles, which can reach both U.S. regional bases and Israel.

Zarif, who was been on a whirlwind diplomatic offensive to preserve the rest of the accord, insisted that Iran “did not violate the nuclear deal” and urged European nations to exert efforts to preserve the deal following the U.S. pullout.

Speaking about the rising tensions with the U.S., Zarif said Iran will be able to “face the war, whether it is economic or military through steadfastness and its forces.” He also urged for a non-aggression agreement between Iran and Arab countries in the Gulf.

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The Shi’ite-majority Iraq has been trying to maintain a fine line as allies Tehran and Washington descended into verbal vitriol. The country also lies on the fault line between Shiite Iran and the mostly Sunni Arab world, led by powerhouse Saudi Arabia, and has long been a battlefield in which the Saudi-Iran rivalry for regional supremacy played out.

The mediation offer by al-Hakim, Iraq’s foreign minister, echoed one made Saturday by Mohamad al-Halbousi, the Iraqi parliament speaker. Al-Hakim also expressed concern for Iran’s spiraling economy.

Iranians make up the bulk of millions of Shi’ites from around the world who come to Iraq every year to visit its many Shiite shrines and holy places and their purchasing power has slumped after Trump re-imposed the sanctions.

“The sanctions against sisterly Iran are ineffective and we stand by its side,” al-Hakim said.

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Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed al-Hakim, made the offer during a joint news conference in Baghdad with visiting Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. VOA

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested the Islamic Republic could hold a referendum over its nuclear program. The official IRNA news agency said Rouhani, who was last week publicly chastised by the country’s supreme leader, made the suggestion in a meeting with editors of major Iranian news outlets on Saturday evening.

Rouhani said he had previously suggested a referendum to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2004, when Rouhani was a senior nuclear negotiator for Iran.

At the time, Khamenei approved of the idea and though there was no referendum, such a vote “can be a solution at any time,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

A referendum could provide political cover for the Iranian government if it chooses to increase its enrichment of uranium, prohibited under the 2015 nuclear deal.

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Earlier last week, Iran said it quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity though Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the deal, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.

Rouhani’s remarks could also be seen as a defense of his stance following the rare public chastising by the supreme leader.

Khamenei last week named Rouhani and Zarif — relative moderates within Iran’s Shiite theocracy who had struck the nuclear deal — as failing to implement his orders over the accord, saying it had “numerous ambiguities and structural weaknesses” that could damage Iran.

Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state in Iran, did not immediately respond to Rouhani’s proposal of a referendum. The Islamic Republic has seen only three referendums since it was established in 1979 — one on regime change from monarchy to Islamic republic and two on its constitution and its amendments. (VOA)

Next Story

Tech Giant Apple Expands its Retail Presence in US

There are over 1,800 third-party Apple authorized service providers across the US

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

Expanding its repair services across the US, Apple has partnered consumer electronics retailer Best Buy with the company’s nearly 1,000 stores that would provide expert service and repairs for Apple products.

“We’re always looking at how we can reliably expand our network of trained technicians and we’re excited to partner with every Best Buy store so it’s even easier for our customers to find an authorized repair location near them,” said Tara Bunch, Vice President of AppleCare, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

According to the iPhone-maker, Best Buy has nearly 7,600 newly Apple-certified technicians who are always ready to make same-day iPhone repairs or to service other Apple products.

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The Apple logo is shown outside the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. VOA

The company asserts that every repair at an authorized service provider was not only performed by trained experts but also backed by Apple.

There are over 1,800 third-party Apple authorized service providers across the US.

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“This is three times as many locations as three years ago, meaning eight out of 10 Apple customers would be within 20 minutes of an authorized service provider,” the post added. (IANS)