Ahead of US Talks, Iraq PM Says Weapons Must Be Restricted to State
In a move considered by political observers as a challenge to factions carrying arms outside the authority of the state and as a prelude to June 1 talks between Baghdad and Washington, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced Thursday that “no party or force has the right to operate outside the state.”
During a visit to the headquarters of the Joint Operations Command Thursday, he stressed that developing security institutions and reforming them are among the priorities of his government.
He underlined the need to work on the principle that all military and security forces are at the service of the people, their aspirations, unity, security and protection.
No party or force has the right to operate beyond the authority of the state, he declared.
During his visit, the PM was briefed on the latest developments in the ongoing operations against ISIS to rid the country of their last remaining terrorists.
Baghdad and Washington are expected to start strategic talks next week on how to organize the presence of US forces in Iraq and the reassessment of a security agreement signed between them in 2008.
The US presence is divisive among Iraq’s many factions. Kurds and Sunnis demand the deployment, describing it as a guarantee of the balance of power, however, the majority of Shiite forces and the all armed factions reject them.
Meanwhile, former US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said: “I don’t think we can afford to abandon Iraq...nor should Iraq or anyone else look to the US after almost 20 years to continue combat missions.”
Commenting on the upcoming talks, national security professor at the Nahrain University Dr. Hussein Allawi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Both countries are ready for open talks, without red lines or restrictions as it is now time that Iraq makes the right choices, away from pressure from Iran or local armed factions.”
He said the talks should later move from the political and security level to the economic and investment level.
“Kadhimi is closer to opposition forces that reject Iranian meddling in Iraq’s economic and political decision-making. Those forces demand normal relations with Tehran without any interference in Iraqi affairs,” Allawi said.