Iraq will not take sides amid tensions in the Middle East, the Iraqi deputy prime minister said on Thursday, as tensions between the United States and Iran escalated.
"We shall not align ourselves with certain countries or be party in an alliance against others," Thamer Ghadhban, who is also Iraq's oil minister, said in London.
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Recent events in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf of Oman, "posed a serious threat to peace in the region and the free and uninterrupted passage of oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz," he told the CWC Iraq Petroleum Conference.
In May, influential Shi'ite clerics Moqtada al-Sadr and Qais al-Khazali warned against getting involved in the conflict, saying it would turn Iraq into a battlefield and inflict much harm.
Iraq's populist Shi'ite cleric al-Sadr said in a statement that any political party that would involve Iraq in a U.S.-Iran war "would be the enemy of the Iraqi people."
Al-Khazali, the leader of an Iranian-backed group, said he is opposed to operations that "give pretexts for war." As U.S.-Iran tensions escalate, there've been concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle.