After months of rocket weapons and the coldest relations, Iraq and the US resume dialogue via video conference organized on Thursday. However, no progress is expected for too long.
Relations between Iraq and the United States are heating up. The authorities in the two countries have scheduled a video conference this Thursday, June 11.
This return to dialogue is explained by the arrival of a new prime minister in Baghdad, former intelligence chief Moustafa al-Kazimi, who is passing to be close to the Americans and his Arab allies. And most importantly, at present, the pro-Iranian factions are in retreat.
“US-Iraq relations will not be redefined overnight”
But the video conference will only be the beginning of a long process without any radical change in perspective, experts and officials warn. Together, senior officials from the two countries have defined the most important issues, which will then be entrusted with committees for long-term discussions.
“Relations between the US and Iraq will not be redefined overnight,” said Robert Ford of the Middle East Institute directly. But “for once, there are the right people, in the right place and at the right time,” continues this former US diplomat who himself participated in the last “strategic dialogue” in 2008.
Then the United States set the conditions for its departure after invading Iraq. Since then, their troops have returned, much fewer in number, to lead a coalition against the Islamic State group.
More than two and a half years after the “victory” over the jihadists, the thousands of American soldiers in Iraq will once again be a central issue. Because after about thirty rocket attacks against Americans, the January assassination of Washington by Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant in Baghdad, the anti-American sentiment has flared again. A rocket fell into a very protected green zone in Baghdad on Wednesday, where the government and diplomatic buildings are located, without causing any injuries.
Shia lawmakers also voted for the deportation of foreign soldiers, and Washington threatened to hit dozens of paramilitary sites.
The effects of the new prime minister
But Moustafa al-Kazimi’s arrival changed the situation. The man has taken the cloth in a country in the midst of an economic crisis and still demands justice for about 550 protesters killed in the repression of an unprecedented uprising.
If his predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi never managed to get an invitation to Washington, Moustafa al-Kazimi, who has been in office for a month, already has his card for the White House this year, according to two government agencies. “It was a problem of trust with the old cabinet, it has changed,” insists one.
In this climate, all topics are discussed on Thursday, mainly American soldiers. “Will we still be able to fly surveillance drones? Do Iraqis still want our information?”, A high ranking US coalition member asked.
Already, the coalition is only on three Iraqi bases, against a dozen earlier. However, a drastic reduction seems highly unlikely as the jihadist threat persists, argues the other coalition countries, suspended in the US-Iraqi dialogue, for which they are not a party.
With AFP and Reuters