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Embassies in Iraq: The Battle Between Kadhimi, the Factions

Embassies in Iraq: The Battle Between Kadhimi, the Factions

Saturday, 3 October, 2020 - 08:45
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (AFP)

The Katyusha attacks against the US embassy and the coalition forces in Iraq have led the conflict between what is usually called “the state and the parallel state” to a critical point. The team of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi is not only facing its opponents, among the leaders of the Shiite factions, but also testing its capabilities that are intended to be exceptional.

“The differences are more complex than mere armed attacks; there are difficult nodes with Kadhimi over everything,” said a senior political source, who attended two meetings between the prime minister and the leaders of the blocs.

On September 14, Kadhimi made adjustments to senior positions, including intelligence and monetary agencies and other institutions. His decisions were met with opposition from Shiite forces, who said that the government had reinstated power sharing.

Based on their approach, Shiite factions are pressing to strike two targets at the same time: the US embassy and the Kadhimi's government.

The approach indicates that those factions are investing in security threats against diplomatic missions to topple the PM ahead of the elections.

However, this method of pressuring the government would have serious repercussions, including political isolation, and perhaps - as diplomatic sources say – would pave the way for US sanctions against the Shiite factions.

Asked about the possibility of the US shutting down its embassy in Baghdad, the sources said: “Not now ... but something may happen at any time.”

This is consistent with the official Iraqi statement about the embassy: “Nothing is official yet, but they are studying the decision to shut down [the embassy],” said Ahmad Mulla Talal, a spokesman for the Iraqi government.

The Americans are putting more pressure. In this regard, US Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker said: “We will not hesitate to protect our interests.”

In view of the recent developments, Kadhimi chose means available to him to achieve gains, and it is clear that he does not want an open confrontation with his opponents, but rather sending small messages to them.

Last week, the prime minister appointed Major General Hamid al-Zuhairi, a former dean of the Iraqi Military College, as director of the security of the Green Zone, which now includes foreign missions alongside the offices of armed factions that were allowed to access the area by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Sources close to the matter said that the government has already started securing the Green Zone, but this process will face the rejection of influential leaders who may open a wider front with Kadhimi.

The crisis is more complex than the arrangements made by the Iraqi premier and his opponents. The crisis of diplomatic missions entails critical pressure on all Iraqi parties to settle the file of illegal weapons and to achieve understandings about the nature of the Iraqi military establishment.

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