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Iraq’s Kadhimi Wins Round of ‘Strategic Dialogue’ with US

Iraq’s Kadhimi Wins Round of ‘Strategic Dialogue’ with US

Thursday, 29 July, 2021 - 04:45
US President Joe Biden, right, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, left, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 26, 2021. (AP)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stressed that elections will be held on time on October 10 in spite of a boycott declared by several political forces.

The premier is riding high on the recent round of strategic dialogue he had held in the United States. Kadhimi and US President Joe Biden sealed an agreement on Monday formally ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, but American forces will still operate there in an advisory role.

Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was the first to express his support to Kadhimi’s talks in the US. His Sadrist movement was the first to announce its withdrawal from the elections.

Political parties have said that conditions are not suitable to hold the polls, so they opted to withdraw.

This contrasts with Biden’s declaration that Washington supports holding the elections. The announcement backs Kadhimi’s position against his rivals in the democratic game in Iraq and with the other type of rivals – the armed factions.

The factions appear divided over the PM’s talks in Washington. The Fatih coalition, headed by Hadi al-Ameri, voiced his support of the strategic dialogue, while armed factions loyal to Iran have cast doubt over the talks, especially in regards to the American troop pullout from Iraq.

Head of the parliamentary foreign relations committee Dhafer al-Aani hoped to Asharq Al-Awsat that Kadhimi’s fruitful talks in Washington would reflect positively on Iraq.

He noted that the consensus between the PM and Washington favors the anti-government protesters and Iraq’s higher interests.

On the discrepancy in position among the armed factions towards the dialogue with the US, he explained that this was all part of Iran’s strategy where it allows parties to express varying views in order to allow itself great room to maneuver. This is especially significant now with Tehran holding negotiations with the US in Vienna over its nuclear deal.

MP Abdullah al-Khirbit said Kadhimi had made a “real accomplishment” in Washington.

“Kadhimi has embarrassed everyone, whether they support or oppose the US troops,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

MP Hussein Arab said: “The Iraqi negotiator succeeded in achieving Iraqi victory and we must all support it.”

“The agreement ended the disputes over the deployment of combat forces that are unwelcome in Iraq. Resisting these forces now becomes legitimate. However, the agreement specified the nature of the ongoing deployment of American forces, who would be tasked with training, armament and intelligence duties,” he explained.

Kurdish former MP Majid Shingali told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kurds view the agreement reached with the US as a “major accomplishment.”

The Kurds, he went on to say, do not support the American troop withdrawal, rather they would have preferred that they stay.

“Regardless of how one would describe the remaining forces, their deployment is important in providing the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga with assistance. Their stay in the country guarantees Iraq’s stability and security against some armed factions, especially those loyal to Iran,” he added.

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