Baghdad Rejects U.S. Interference in Its Affairs After U.S. Twitter Comments

BAGHDAD, Nov 3 (Reuters) – The Iraqi Foreign Ministry rejected on Saturday what it called U.S. interference in its affairs after the U.S. embassy issued a statement telling neighbouring Iran to respect Iraq’s sovereignty allow demobilisation of Shi’ite militias.

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad had posted a message on Twitter on Tuesday saying Tehran must “respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration” of Shi’ite militias.

It was one of several statements issued on the embassy’s Twitter account outlining U.S. demands before new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sector take effect on Nov. 4. The sanctions worry Iraq as it imports crucial supplies from Iran.

[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” caption=”Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani uses a walkie-talkie at the frontline during offensive operations against Islamic State militants in the town of Tal Ksaiba in Salahuddin province March 8, 2015. Picture taken March 8, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer IRAQ ” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement it “rejects interference in Iraq’s internal affairs, especially domestic security reform” and demanded the Twitter post be removed.

Washington and Tehran have competed for influence in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, which took part in a U.S.-backed campaign to defeat Islamic State, were formally included in the security forces this year. Some militias are backed by Iran, a majority Shi’ite nation. Washington wants them disarmed.

The United States has said it would grant Baghdad a waiver on Iranian gas and energy imports that feed Iraqi power stations and vital food items, Iraqi officials said on Friday.

(Reporting by Huda Majeed and John Davison Editing by Edmund Blair)