Iran's Quds Force commander visits Iraq amid election deadlock
A top Iranian commander arrived in Iraq on Sunday hours before sensitive discussions were scheduled to take place in the Iraqi parliament in an unsuccessful attempt to elect a new Iraqi president, local media have reported.
Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, visited Iraq to speak with leaders of pro-Iran parties ahead of a sensitive parliamentary session scheduled on Monday, according to local monitor Shafaq News.
The session was due to lead to the formation of a new government and the election of the next Iraqi president following months of deadlock.
Parliament failed to elect a president as the quorum was not met, due to several key parties boycotting the vote - which was postponed indefinitely.
Two-thirds of parliamentary votes are required for the election of a new president, who will then entrust the largest coalition in parliament to form a government.
Qaani had already visited Iraq several times over the past few weeks to smooth out tensions between pro-Iran political groups and press for the formation of a new government.
The country has been enmeshed in months of political paralysis since the parliamentary elections on 10 October.
Pro-Iran parties fared poorly in the vote and decried the results, slamming the process "a fraud".
Parties now have to negotiate with the Sadrist Movement, which is led by Iraqi cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr and is the biggest vote-winner in the last elections.
The Quds Force is responsible for Iran's military operations abroad and has played a key role in supporting the Assad regime in Syria and Shia militias in Iraq.