Iraq continues to play a central role in the war on terrorism in the Middle East. Baghdad is actively working to boost cooperation with various parties to stabilize the region.
On August 26, Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji, a spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command in Iraq, announced that the Iraqi-Russian-Iranian-Syrian Security Coordination Center is still operating in Baghdad.
The center was established in 2015 following the start of Russian anti-terrorism operations in Syria to improve cooperation between the four countries.
“The center has done a lot in combating ISIS terrorism by providing a stream of information against terrorist gangs, especially with regard to the Syrian and Iraqi sides,” Maj. Gen. al-Khafaji told the state-run Iraqi News Agency.
On August 27, Minister of the Armed Forces of France, Florence Parly, arrived in Baghdad on an official visit.
At a joint press conference with her Iraqi counterpart, Juma Inad, Parly said her visit was aimed at strengthening relations between Iraq and France in all fields. The minister also expressed her concern about the situation in the Middle East.
From his side, Inad said Parly’s visit is a part of efforts to enhance security cooperation between the two countries, revealing that Baghdad is interested in French weapon systems.
During her visit, Parly also held meetings with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih. Mustafa al-Kadhimi has arrived from his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Last March, the Iraqi military announced that French troops operating in the framework of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS had withdrawn from the country. Parly’s visit indicates that Paris may be planning to return, even if only through cooperation. The strengthening of Iraqi-French cooperation probably indicates the desire of Paris to put pressure on Turkey.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is working to lower its presence in Iraq. So far, U.S. forces have withdrawn from eight Iraqi bases, with the last being Camp Taji. A series of attacks by Shiite armed groups affiliated with Iran was likely behind the withdrawal decision.
The recent development confirms, again, that Iraq is still the battleground for the geopolitical game in the Middle East. This will not likely change anytime soon despite the rising conflict between the East and West in the region.