Alwaght- After a long talk about Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's visit to the US, according to the Iraqi Prime Minister's Office, the Iraqi delegation will travel to Washington on 18 August, 2020. According to news sources, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi will meet with US President Donald Trump during this trip. Issues concerning various fields also will be discussed between the political delegations of the two countries. Al-Kadhimi’s visit to the United States comes at a time when the important issue of the agreement on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has overshadowed the trip. The first round of strategic talks between Washington and Baghdad took place on 10 June and 11, 2020 in Iraq, but in this round of talks, practically no results were achieved.
Al-Kadhimi has shown a pragmatic and so-called gray face during his short tenure as Prime Minister, and despite the undeniable role of anti-American political currents in parliament in bringing him to power, his political positions during this period have not been precisely spot on. At times he would support anti-American ideologies and some other time he would do the opposite. Therefore, given the background, on the eve of the Iraqi delegation's visit to the US, Iraqi political factions and public opinion have taken positions on this diplomatic visit. Given the macro-level of recent developments, three main demands can be assessed as the focus of Iraqi citizens' expectations of the Minister.
Expelling US troops from Iraq
In the current situation, the most important public demand of the citizens and the overwhelming majority of Iraqi political factions can be considered as the implementation of the resolution of the Iraqi parliament to expel foreign troops, especially US troops from the country. On 3 January, 2020, US forces assassinated the leaders of the Axis of Resistance, General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a criminal act. Following this incident, the demand for the expulsion of the Americans as a pro-terrorist force became a public demand, and on 5 January, 2020, the Iraqi parliament approved a resolution on the expulsion of foreign troops from the country.
In recent months, Iraqi citizens have repeatedly called for the expulsion of US troops from the country during street protests and civil demonstrations, and have even cited this as a precondition for Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s position as Prime Minister. Now, this demand has been raised as one of the most important demands of Iraqi citizens from Mustafa Al-Kadhimi during his trip to the US. The overwhelming majority of people and political currents believe that during the negotiations with Trump, the Iraqi Prime Minister should explicitly demand the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Certainly, this issue should be one of the focal points of Al-Kadhimi's negotiations in Washington, and the lack of seriousness in the Iraqi delegation's request could undermine his prestige and legitimacy among the people and political parties.
Continuation of suspension of Iraqi sanctions exemptions in relation to Iran
Another demand of Iraqi citizens from the Prime Minister and his accompanying delegation during their visit to the US is to negotiate the extension of US sanctions exemptions for Iraq in relations with Iran. At a more serious level, Iraqi citizens want Baghdad to not consider any of Washington's financial sanctions in its relations with Tehran, and at a minimum level, cooperation between the two countries in the field of energy and the maintenance of exports should be maintained. Iraq and Iran have put $20 billion business exchange volume on the agenda by the end of this year as one of their main goals. But this goal can only be achieved, if, the US does not create obstacles and barriers for the central government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Overall, Iraqis now expect Al-Kadhimi to receive assurances from the White House regarding the extension of sanction waivers and non-interference in trade relations between the two neighboring nations (Iran-Iraq).
To prevent prolonged negotiations
Another demand of Iraqi citizens from the Iraqi Prime Minister on the eve of his visit to the US can be assessed in connection with the non-prolongation of the negotiations. One of the basic tactics of the US to maintain its position in Iraq is to take refuge in prolonging the negotiations with the Iraqi negotiators. Iraqi citizens clearly want the Iraqi negotiating board to not be caught in America’s time-buying approach which would result in further stay of US troops in Iraq, and make any agreement subject to a short period of time. This approach can clearly be very effective in defeating US policies to keep its troops in Iraq by resorting to ongoing crises.