With Islamic extremists threatening to overrun Iraq, there has been increasing pressure on the United States and Iran to combine forces to help Baghdad.
As the militants tighten their grip on several cities, one expert on Iranian and Middle East affairs told euronews that the idea of a divided Iraq is not in their common interests.
Masoud Alfak is editor at Middle East Broadcasting Corporation: “The division of Iraq will be discussed if it can be presented as a solution and not a problem. But right now, I think Iran prefers a strong Iraq, united with them, rather than an divided Iraq. The majority of countries in the Middle East don’t agree with the idea of a divided Iraq, because a lot of these countries are multi-ethnic, multi-religious countries, therefore they don’t want a divided Iraq which could infect them. For example, Iran is a multi-ethnic country. There are the Kurds, the Arabs, the Beloush, the Turks, like Saudi Arabia with the Shia, Sunni and Ismaili. Same situation in Turkey, and in Syria.”
Reports of so-called “ethnic cleansing” by Iraqi militants have given rise to fears of a long and bloody civil war and question over whether people can unite to face the extremists. That is unlikely according to Alfak.
“A large number of Shia are against Maliki. We know that Ayatollah Sistani asked the Iraqi people to fight what he called terrorists. But, two years on, he refused to met Maliki. Ammar Al Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, is against Maliki as well and the most important here, Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader al Mehdi army, the Shia group, and he is against al Maliki. He said “it wasn’t Iraq which lost the war in Mosul, but Maliki’s army. Divisions are deep inside the country”.