Samson » September 7th, 2021
After 113 days, prosperity or a new invasion awaits Iraq?
5th September, 2021
As the countdown continues in Baghdad with the United States of America promising to withdraw its combat forces from Iraq by the end of this year, many are wondering who will fill the void left by Washington, or who can do so, especially after the Baghdad conference attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, what a more realistic question arises whether France, which presented itself for this role, will be able to achieve this or not.
The British “Middle East Eye” website highlighted these data in a report translated by Shafak News Agency, as it quoted Iraqi and American officials as saying that “French President Emmanuel Macron wants to present France as a supporter and strategic ally of the Baghdad government, and that the regional summit ( The Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership) which was held in the Iraqi capital, was an ideal place to start.”
The British website presented a description of the situation of France, referring to its good relations with Iraq, and that it was one of the first countries to recognize the new political system, although it refused to participate in the international military coalition led by the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003, and it ranks second after Washington ranks among the number of soldiers deployed in Iraq, as part of the international coalition against ISIS, as well as being a major member of NATO.
And the site stated in its report, that “the American withdrawal is for France an opportunity to penetrate into Iraq and create a platform for expanding its influence throughout the Middle East, securing a balance for Iranian influence, and competing with Turkey, a NATO ally that often disagrees with it.” He also quoted Iraqi officials as saying that “the French believe that Iraq, after decades of war, weakness and turmoil, is ready to receive them and secure a base for them to build political and economic bridges with the countries of the region.”
According to an Iraqi official, the “Baghdad Conference on Partnership and Cooperation”, which was held last week, witnessed the launch of this plan, as it was the “official gate” through which France entered Iraq to present itself as a partner to the Iraqi government in its interests and as a sponsor of Iraq’s regional and international interests.”
Macron had confirmed during a press conference that “France will maintain its presence in Iraq to fight terrorism, whatever choices the Americans make,” according to “Middle East Eye.”
The website quoted the director of Middle East and North Africa programs at the United States Institute of Peace, Eli Abu Aoun, as saying, “It is clear that France sees an opportunity in the American retreat, to gain political and economic influence in Iraq, after its failure in Lebanon,” referring to France’s attempt to impose a settlement. Politics and economics in Lebanon after the bombing of the port in Beirut in the year 2020. Abu Aoun explained, “Iraq is close to Turkey and France is looking for papers to pressure Turkey and strengthen its position in its ongoing struggle in the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. France has an agenda and is following up on what it wants.”
The Baghdad Conference is a French project
According to Iraqi officials, the Baghdad conference was originally a French project, based on an idea adopted by former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and put up for discussion by Iraqi President Barham Salih during a visit to France in February 2019.
The website quoted an Iraqi official familiar with the project, saying that “Abdul-Mahdi, despite his visit to France after three months to crystallize the idea, later abandoned it and moved towards China, fearing that he would be accused of falling into the arms of France, because he holds French citizenship, and because it is not acceptable.” regionally.”
Another Iraqi official told the British website, “The original idea was to find an alternative strategic ally for Iraq to replace the United States after its withdrawal.”
After the site pointed out that many political forces, including some Iranian-backed forces, are concerned about the idea of a complete American withdrawal from Iraq, the Iraqi official was quoted as saying that “Iraqi leaders were, and still are, looking for a force that can provide an objective balance. against Iranian influence in Iraq and the region.
The official stated, according to the website, that “no one wants to fall completely into the Iranian quagmire. The Iranians themselves do not want to be responsible for everything that happens in Iraq, and are looking for partners in the spoils and losses.”
And the website continued, “The French took the idea of Abdul-Mahdi and developed it, and then put it forward as an initiative entitled (Supporting the Sovereignty of Iraq) announced by Macron during his previous visit to Iraq in September 2020, and this conference was supposed to be held in Paris, where the French wanted to be the organizers of the meeting. However, after the conference was expanded to include a number of regionally competing parties, it was moved to Baghdad and recast as an event focused on stability in the Middle East.
The website also quoted a member of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi’s team as saying, “Although France has practically no relationship with the conference in its final form, and its participation is not justified, the Iraqis were unable to exclude it because the original idea they had,” adding that “what Iraq wanted it to return to playing the role of mediator, and the French wanted this conference to be a reminder of their return to the region through Iraq.”
The source indicated that France was presented as a “co-chair” of the conference, but the truth is that “the Iraqis were the ones who organized everything, and the gathering of all these (participating countries) was the fruits of Al-Kazemi’s efforts and his relations.”
On the possibility of a recurring scenario in Iraq similar to what happened in Afghanistan, Middle East Eye stated in its report, “The worst scenario for most political forces not linked to Iran is what they call multiple chaos, which may lead to the outbreak of fighting between the Shiites themselves. And among the Kurds, and that such conflicts will eventually lead to the division of the country’s politics along sectarian and ethnic lines.”
The website also stated that “the political system in Iraq did not obtain its legitimacy through elections, and that it derives the legitimacy granted by the international community to it.” From continuing to support it, it will mean the collapse of this regime and the transformation of Iraq into a sectarian state,” according to a source in Al-Kazemi’s team.
The source continued his warnings, saying that “Iraq is exposed to widespread political and popular chaos, in light of the complete US withdrawal and Iran’s loss of control over its proxies in Iraq.” He explained that “this chaos means the outbreak of a bloody conflict between sectarian and political groups, and the division of Iraq may be the inevitable result of this level of conflict.” But the website indicated in its report that “the majority of Iraqi politicians and officials are not close to this pessimism,” explaining that such a chaotic scenario is unlikely because “most of the Iraqi political forces were aware of the upcoming challenges that the American withdrawal would bring and were working to find alternative sources of force to achieve balance”.
The report also stated, “Among the most prominent of these forces are the Muqtada al-Sadr movement, the Wisdom Movement led by Ammar al-Hakim, and the Victory Alliance led by former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in addition to a number of forces close to the religious authority in Najaf, Ali al-Sistani, along with Al-Kazemi and President Barham Salih.” And the website quoted one of the leaders of wisdom as saying that “these forces represent the nucleus of a major political alliance that may form after the parliamentary elections next October, to form the largest bloc and name the next prime minister.”
The leader of the Wisdom Movement continued, saying that “these forces will lead Iraq towards consolidating its sovereignty and gradually getting out from under the mantle of Iran, while trying to find an alternative to the United States to create the desired balance in Iraq and the region,” noting that “France is considered a regionally acceptable international player, and it is the force The second is in the European Union and Iran does not reject it, and this is very important.”
Officials and politicians said that despite the strong control of Tehran and Washington over Iraq since 2003, they are now not enjoying the popularity and political influence as before, according to “Middle East Eye”.
The report continued, quoting Iraqi and US officials as saying that “in light of what appears to be an American withdrawal from the region, Iraqi politicians and officials are seeking to establish a state of balance in their country, believing that it can be achieved by turning Iraq into a “meeting point” for regional players.” US and Iraqi officials made it clear to the British website that this could “enhance the power and influence” of a number of regional and international powers by creating common interests while Iraq is in the middle.
The website also quoted the former US ambassador in Baghdad, Douglas Silliman, as saying that “Iraq seeks to portray itself as a major player in the region, and many Iraqi governments have sought to play this role in the past, and Al-Kazemi made great efforts in order for Iraq to play a regional role.” Positively,” adding that “the stability of Iraq can be the basis for the region’s stability and prosperity.”
Silliman continued, “This role is very important for Iraq from a geopolitical point of view,” noting that “the idea is that Iraq will be a region of consensus and stability for the countries of the region instead of being a region of conflict, as happened in the past years, and that” the most important thing that was achieved in this summit is the bilateral meetings. The small event that took place on the sidelines of the Baghdad conference, and the conference paved the ground and the appropriate atmosphere for the start of dialogues between the conflicting parties, and this is what is important.”
The report concluded by noting that “Washington’s withdrawal from Iraq will not resemble its withdrawal from Afghanistan,” recalling that Washington will continue to provide intelligence and air support to Iraq.
The website quoted US and Iraqi officials as saying that “most importantly, the agreement signed between the Al-Kazemi government and the Biden administration allows US forces to carry out military operations inside Iraq if the Iraqi government so requests.” A US official familiar with the details of the agreement told Middle East Eye that “all military operations in which US forces participate will stop at the end of 2021, but if the Iraqi government needs assistance such as aviation or intelligence, it will be provided from outside Iraq.” He added, “The analysis of intelligence data, combat aircraft and drones do not need to be on the ground, and for this we agreed with Al-Kazemi’s proposal to withdraw the remaining combat forces in Iraq, although their numbers do not exceed dozens.”
As for France, it is likely that the future in Iraq will not be as bright as it wants to believe, and politicians and officials told the British site that “Paris does not have the right ingredients for success in the short term.”
A member of Al-Kazemi’s team returned to confirm to the British website, that “the French will not succeed in filling the void that the United States may leave in Iraq,” adding, “They are only seeking to turn the space available to them, into a foothold for expansion in the Middle East.”
From the point of view of the French, the region is now ripe and ready to receive them because the Iraqis are exhausted, their country is in ruins, Syria is in ruins, and Yemen is almost in ruins, which means that there are about 250 million people who need reconstruction politically and financially.
The source concluded by saying that “Al-Kazemi allowed France to participate in the Baghdad conference out of respect for France’s role in organizing it in the first place, but the conference was mainly related to the appointment of Al-Kazemi, not Macron, as a regional mediator and his victory in a second term in power, so that the British site returns to the question “to which one will succeed? That is what you will answer in the coming days.” LINK
Source: Dinar Recaps
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