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Analysis

Al-Kadhimi’s Warm US Talks Received With Chill At Home

Tuesday 25 August 2020
Al-Kadhimi’s Warm US Talks Received With Chill At Home

Alwaght- The last week visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister Mostafa al-Kadhimi to the US presents itself as one of the main developments of the post-ISIS Iraqi politics. The visit was paid as the first round of American-Iraqi strategic dialogue was held in June. 

During the two-day trip, the two countries signed both security and economic agreements, bringing their bilateral relations to a focus. According to a statement by the US President Donald Trump and PM al-Kadhimi, Baghdad and Washington have agreed on long-term security cooperation to confront the threats. 

According to al-Kadhimi, soon a professional committee will be formed to set a timetable for the exit of the American forces from Iraq. Simultaneously, Trump said that the US and the so-called international anti-ISIS coalition were committed to fully exit from Iraq within three years. 

Iraqi government signed an $8 billion deal with American companies for energy cooperation. A statement by the US Department of Energy said that Honeywell International, General Electric, Chevron, Baker Hughes, and Stellar Energy are the companies set to start work in energy and power sectors in Iraq according to the deal. But the trip by al-Kadhimi has been met by criticism by various Iraqi political sides. 

Resistant groups’ reaction 

The most serious reaction was made by resistant groups that issued a statement on both the Trump-al-Kadhimi meeting and also the last week Emirati-Israeli normalization deal. 

They asserted that the PM should prioritize the demands of the Iraqi people for which they protested and also the parliamentary bill that requires the government to force the occupying forces out of the country. The statement argued that the American forces’ presence breaches the 2009 security pact of Baghdad and Washington and is “a blatant violation of Iraq sovereignty and dignity.” 

“We were shocked to know that PM al-Kadhimi’s meeting with the American president did not include discussion on the exit of occupying American forces. Return of PM al-Kadhimi to Iraq without realization of the decision of the Iraqi people and parliament and his and Iraqi groups’ promise to defend national sovereignty and end the American occupation will encourage the Iraqi resistance to target the American interests and shaken the ground beneath them. No matter how far they stay from our cities, they will not be safe from our fire,” the statement read. 

Qais al-Khazali, the Secretary-General of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq expressed his surprise that al-Kadhimi and his delegation did not raise the US pullout case and it was the American side that discussed the case. “Trump has his own motivations behind this meeting and tries to take election advantages from anything,” al-Khazali said. He added that the need for US exit was not raised seriously in the PM’s trip, implying that the Iraqi delegation was neither serious nor was it courageous enough to raise the issue with the Americans. “We saw that neither the prime minister nor the foreign minister raised the case and it was the Americans who raised it. The expulsion is a parliamentary law and the prime minister had to pursue it,” He went on. 

Al-Kadhimi threatened with ousting if agreed with American stay 

A strong-toned reaction to al-Kadhmi’s visit was a threat to oust him if he agreed with the American forces staying in Iraq. In this relation, a member of the State of Law Alliance in the parliament said that the PM should implement the parliament bill on exit, otherwise he will be dismissed. 

According to Al-Ma’aloma news outlet, Abdel Hadi al-Sadawi held that the international coalition should take its forces out of Iraq and the American military bases have to be removed. He said that the existence of American bases without Baghdad's consent is illegal and unacceptable and if the government agrees with it, the parliament should revoke its confidence in the government. He insisted that the PM should implement the parliamentary bill on the foreign forces, otherwise he will be removed. He also commented on the budget share given to the Kurdish region in the north. “The budget share paid to the Kurdistan region is unconstitutional,” he said, adding “we believe that it is illegal and against the constitution and other laws.” 

Tying the agreements to parliament ratification 

Another issue for the political parties concerning the PM’s visit to the US is the agreements that were signed between the Iraqi and American sides, raising concerns and motivating the lawmakers to react. A member of Fatah Alliance, one of the two major blocs leading the parliament, reminded that any agreement reached with Washington should be ratified by the parliament. 

“Signing deals with the US by al-Kadhimi’s government for Iraq’s interests is ok but the parliament should be aware of them and ratify them, otherwise the political parties will grow discontentment,” Thamer Thebian continued. He also highlighted the necessity for Iraq to close its airspace to the American military. He supported this demand by examples of US disrespect to Iraqi sovereignty. “Military commanders and even US president entered Iraq without informing Baghdad,” he said.

Questioning al-Kadhimi if exit bill not implemented 

Another reaction is the raising of questioning the PM if the US forces are not expelled from Iraq. Karim Olaiwi, a Fatah Alliance member, said that the parliament will review the trip results to ask questions from al-Kadhimi if necessary. Olaiwi said that the results show that the national goals of the visit including the expulsion of the American forces were not realized and this will provoke questioning the PM about the binding exit bill by the parliament. 

Generally, given the type of the reaction by the Iraqi political parties to the results of al-Kadhimi’s Washington trip, it seems that the Iraqi delegation has failed to return with outcomes impressive to the Iraqi public. And even worse, the results have turned into al-Kadhimi government’s Achilles heel. Now that the initial warmth of relations between al-Kadhimi and the resistant forces has given place to chill and pessimism, the PM’s political fate and stay in the post will be further cloaked in mystery. 

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Iraq US Al-Kadhimi Visit American Exit

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