BAGHDAD: Qatar is interfering in the formation of an Iraqi government by supporting Shi’ite forces in implementing Iran’s plans in Iraq according to sources from a quartet of major parties looking to form the next government, which includes Muqtada Al Sadr, Haider Al Abadi, Iyad Allawi and Ammar Al Hakim.
Qatari officials are still in direct contacts with Iraqi officials urging them to join Nuri Al Maliki-Hadi Al Amiri axis to form the largest bloc before electing a pro-Iranian prime minister, sources said.
Qatar and Iran share common objectives as to the formation of the Iraqi government including Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish forces that would keep Iraq in isolation from its Arab environment. Both Iran and Iraq also aim to undermine moderate Shi’ite forces, namely Muqtada Al Sadr Movement, represented by the populist cleric’s Sairoon coalition and Al Abadi’s Victory bloc.
Sources also revealed that Doha opened channels with some Kurdish personalities close to Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani parties to build an alliance with Nuri Al maliki and support him to become Iraq’s next prime minister, reports our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej.
Meanwhile, an apparent Iranian influence operation targeting Internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 languages.
Facebook and other companies said last week that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries.
A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
US-based cyber security firm FireEye and Israeli firm ClearSky reviewed Reuters’ findings and said technical indicators showed the web of newly-identified sites and social media accounts – called the International Union of Virtual Media, or IUVM – was a piece of the same campaign, parts of which were taken down last week by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet.
IUVM pushes content from Iranian state media and other outlets aligned with the government in Tehran across the Internet, often obscuring the original source of the information such as Iran’s PressTV, Fars news agency and Al Manar TV run by the Iran-backed Hizbollah militant group.