Iranian-state media have been defending Iraj Masjedi, Tehran’s new ambassador to Baghdad. Masjedi is a member of the Qods Force, the external branch of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Al-Alam, the Iranian-sponsored media outlet that is aimed at the Arabic-speaking world, quoted Iraq’s National Security Advisor, Falih al-Fayyad, to say that Masjedi is welcome in Baghdad and that “he is someone [Iraqis] know and appreciate for his past record in Iraq.”

The outlet suggested that Saudi Arabia had raised misgivings about Masjedi given his affiliation with the controversial Iranian political-military Qods Force. The strong defense of Masjedi by Fayyad came at the same time as the Iraqi National Security Advisor called Tehran “Iraq’s number one ally in the fight against Daesh [the Islamic State].” Fayyad predicted that Masjedi will play an “important role in shaping the common defense of the two countries.” In another statement, as he defended the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization Forces, Fayyad controversially uttered that “if given permission by Damascus” then Iraqi Shia militias can go to Syria to fight Daesh [Islamic State].