TEL AVIV – In its ongoing attempt to drive the U.S. and Iraq apart, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iraq’s U.S.-backed prime minister on Thursday that America is not to be trusted and he should not depend on it when fighting the Islamic State, Reuters reported, quoting Iran’s state TV.
“Unity was the most important factor in your gains against terrorists and their supporters,” Khamenei told Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi during a visit to Tehran.
The U.S. has 5,000 troops in Iraq and has provided weapons and training to the Iraqi army while Iran trains and funds other Iraqi Shiite forces in the country.
Iraq has walked a fine line for years between keeping the peace with both of its allies, but the country’s recent clashes with its Kurdish minority – also funded and trained by Washington – is threatening to put Baghdad squarely in Iran’s court, the report said.
Following the Kurdish independence referendum last month, Abadi sent Iraqi forces to fight alongside Iranian-backed Shia militias to capture some 40 percent of Kurdish territory.
His office released a statement saying that no country has the right to give orders to Iraq and said the Iranian-backed paramilitaries are Iraqi “patriots.”
“We will preserve Iraq’s unity and will never allow any secession,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA quoted Abadi as saying during his meeting with Khamenei.