On June 11th, the US and Iraq released a joint statement on their strategic dialogue, outlining American troop withdrawal from the Middle East country.
The statement also included information on other topics. However, notably, following the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani by US drone strike.
Nine others were killed alongside Soleimani, including four Iranian and five Iraqi nationals such as deputy chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and commander of the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
“On the security partnership, the two countries recognized that in light of significant progress towards eliminating the ISIS threat, over the coming months the U.S. would continue reducing forces from Iraq and discuss with the Government of Iraq the status of remaining forces as both countries turn their focus towards developing a bilateral security relationship based on strong mutual interests. The United States reiterated that it does not seek nor request permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq, as previously agreed to in the 2008 SFA which provides for security cooperation to be undertaken on the basis of mutual agreement. The Government of Iraq committed to protecting the military personnel of the International Coalition and the Iraqi facilities hosting them consistent with international law and the specific arrangements for their presence as will be decided upon by the two countries.”
The joint statement, was released quickly, and the strategic dialogue was brief, with David Schenker, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, telling reporters the delegations did not discuss a timeline for reducing troops.
Separately, in terms of economy, the US vowed to support its economy. This was the first strategic dialogue in more than ten years.
The United States said it would look to encourage investment and promote economic reform in Iraq, which was rocked last year by major protests against unemployment and corruption.
“We will support the new government through the international financial institutions to help it meet the challenge of COVID-19 and declining oil revenues,” Schenker said.
“The United States discussed providing economic advisors to work directly with the Government of Iraq to help advance international support for Iraq’s reform efforts, including from the international financial institutions in connection with firm plans to enact fundamental economic reforms. The two governments discussed the potential for investment projects involving world-class U.S. firms in the energy and other sectors, provided that business conditions are favorable.”
Tensions have calmed substantially since Mustafa al-Kadhimi– an ex-spy chief with close ties to the US and its allies in the region — took the reins as Iraq’s premier in May 2020.
Two Iraqi officials said al-Kadhimi has been invited to the White House this year.
“There was a lack of confidence in the relationship with the previous government,” one of the officials said.
And the US statement underlined that it was prepared to work with him.
“The two sides reaffirmed the importance of the strategic relationship and their determination to take appropriate steps to enhance it in the interest of both countries and to achieve security, stability, and prosperity in the region. The United States Government welcomed the opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen its partnership with Iraq as Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi begins his term in office. The two governments look forward to in-depth discussions of the above issues at a Strategic Dialogue Higher Coordination Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., likely in July.”
As such this Strategic Dialogue is just a sort of intro into potential in-depth talks in July, after a short period of seeing what will transpire in the country, following this initial statement.
The spokesman for the pro-Iran Fatah bloc, Ahmad al-Assadi, has insisted on a six-month deadline for foreign troops’ departure.
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