By Mohammad Al-Ghazzi (with POL-IRAN-IRAQ)
BAGHDAD, Dec 3 (KUNA) -- Iraqi political forces reacted differently on Tuesday to the announcement by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki of his plan to visit neighboring Iran tomorrow.
While opponents saw the visit an attempt by Al-Maliki to get support from the Iranians for his ambition for a third term in office, his supporters in the State of Law Coalition said the visit just aims to congratulate Iranian President Hassan Rohani and discuss regional issues.
Speaking to KUNA, Ali Mosawi, the Prime Minister's media advisor, said Al-Maliki aims to congratulate Iran on its recent deal with the P5+1 group by virtue of which several sanctions on Iran will be terminated.
"The Prime Minister will also discuss the bilateral relations, notability the navigation in Shatt Al-Arab waterway, and regional issues such as the conflict in Syria," he revealed.
"It is ridiculous to think that Prime Minister Al-Miliki is after Iran's approval for his bid to a third term in office. The Iraqis are solely the ones who select their prime ministers, presidents and representatives in the parliament through ballot boxes," Mosawi affirmed.
Meanwhile, Mufeed Al-Beldawi, an MP from the State of Law Coalition, said the visit will be very useful for the promotion of the bilateral ties and the combat against terrorism in Iraq and beyond.
"Al-Maliki aims to discuss with the Iranian leaders Iraq's plan to host the coming round of talks between Tehran and the P5+1 Group," Spokesman of the State of Law Ali Shalah said in a statement to KUNA.
On the other hand, Al-Maliki's political rivals affirm that the visit has ulterior purposes relating to the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Ameer Al-Kana'ie, MP from the Ahrar parliamentary bloc - a partner in the United Iraqi Alliance, said: "The objectives of the visit are vague since neither the cabinet nor the parliament knows anything about them or the members of the delegation to accompany Al-Maliki.
"Therefore, the outcome of the visit will be kept as dark secret for both cabinet and parliament members," he affirmed.
Similarly, Haider Al-Mulla, MP from the Iraqi National Dialogue Front, said the visit will materialize Iran's growing influence on the political scene in Iraq.
"Al-Maliki seeks to get Iran's blessing to his bid for reelection. How can we rule out the ulterior motives behind the visit at a time when the photos of (Iran's supreme leader Sayyed Ali) Khamenei are raised in streets across Baghdad?" Al-Mulla wondered.
Meanwhile, Tatal Al-Thawba'ei, MP from the Iraqi List, said the timing of the visit which coincides with preparations for parliamentary elections in Iraq "sends negative messages on Iran's political clout in Iraq." (end) mhg.gb KUNA 040011 Dec 13NNNN