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Iran’s Man in Iraq: “America is Not the Old America. It is Weaker Than Ever.”

Mike Pompeo went to put the thumbscrews on the Iraqi government this week. No more electrical power from Iran, he told them, and make sure those pesky Iranians don’t attack our boys in that great American base in Iraq which Trump was boasting about. The New York Times numbingly told us that his trip was “shrouded in secrecy” – if only it had been. Then at least the US secretary of state could have paid a visit to Iran’s most important supporter in the Iraqi parliament.

I met Hadi al-Ameri in Baghdad a few days before Pompeo turned up in town. A tough, curmudgeonly, 64-year-old bearded ex-militia leader, fluent in Persian and in the Shia politics of Iraq, he is a personal friend of Qassem Suleimani – commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force and America’s latest “super-terrorist” in the Middle East – and fought alongside Iran in its eight-year war with Saddam.

I can imagine what he might have told Pompeo, because this is what he told me over tea in his Baghdad office.

“Pity America, because of this crazy Trump! There were 180,000 American troops here with tanks and all their equipment and we did not surrender to their intentions or wishes. Today, we want to build an Iraq depending on itself, strong and sovereign in the region and we will make good relations with all the regional countries for the interests of the people of Iraq – not for America or for Saudi Arabia or for Iran. We will not allow America to use Iraq to watch regional countries. And we will not allow Iraq to become a battlefield for other countries to clear their debts.”

Mark those words: “Not … for Iran.” Because Ameri presents himself as an Iraqi nationalist first, a Shia second – his political enemies in Iraq will disagree. He prides himself on his leadership of the old Badr Brigade and he played a prominent role in the struggle against Isis in 2014.

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