Washington and Baghdad reparlent, without great expectations

Washington et Bagdad se reparlent, sans grandes espérances

BAGHDAD | After months of rocket fire and of the relations of the colder, Iraq and the United States resume language Thursday, partners now inclined to dialogue, but whose margin of manoeuvre is reduced.

In Baghdad, a new Prime minister arrived, the ex-intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kazimi, who is close to Us and its arab allies. And most of all, for the moment, the factions pro-Iran are in retreat.

But the video conferencing — COVID-19 forces — scheduled for this Thursday at 16 h local will be only the beginning of a long process without any radical change in perspective, warn experts and officials. Together, senior officials of the two countries are to define the main topics that will then be entrusted to committees for discussions throughout the course.

“The relations of american-iraqi will not be redefined in a day”, ensures from the outset, Robert Ford, of the Middle East Institute.

But, “for once, there are the right people, at the right place at the right time”, says the former u.s. diplomat who himself took part in the latest “strategic dialogue” in 2008.

At the time, the United States had established the terms of their departure after having invaded Iraq. Since then, their troops have returned — though less numerous —, at the head of a coalition against the group islamic State (EI).

Anti-american Sentiment

More than two and a half years after the “victory” on the jihadists, thousands of american soldiers in Iraq will again be a central subject.

Because after thirty rocket attacks against Americans, the assassination in January by Washington to the general iranian Qassem Soleimani and his lieutenant in iraq in Baghdad, the anti-american sentiment has re-flamed.

The shiites deputies have voted the expulsion of foreign soldiers and Washington threatened to strike dozens of sites paramilitaries.

But the arrival of Mr. Kazimi has changed the situation. The man took the reins of a country in the midst of economic crisis and demands always do justice to the approximately 550 protesters have been killed in the suppression of a revolt new.

If his predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi has never managed to land an invitation to Washington, Mr. Kazimi, in the position for a month, already has its cardboard to the White House this year, provide to the AFP two government officials.

“There was a problem of trust with the former firm, that has changed,” says one of them.

In this climate, all the topics will be discussed on Thursday, in the first place that american soldiers.

“Can we still fly drones for surveillance? The Iraqis want-they still have our information?”, questioned a high-ranking american in the coalition.

Already, the coalition is no more than three bases in iraq, compared to ten before.

“We do not yet have details on the number of soldiers, but the us proposal refers to “a reduction of troops”,” reports AFP an iraqi leader.

However, a drastic reduction seems highly unlikely as the threat of jihadist is still present, argue the other countries of the coalition, suspended the dialogue of american-iraqi, for which they are not a party.

“Non-Us coalition will remain in Iraq only if the Americans remain,” says a diplomat to AFP.

The economy, “problem number 1”

Other parties are not invited, but will be closely monitoring the dialogue: the allies of Iran in Iraq.

Ahmed al-Assadi, a spokesman for their parliamentary block — leader of the vote of expulsion, has recently repeated to give six months for the Americans to leave.

Again, Monday and Wednesday, two rockets have referred to soldiers and diplomats americans in Baghdad, as a reminder.

The tone, however, is less aggressive. The brigades of Hezbollah faction pro-Iran as the most radical, have announced that they would give their position only after Thursday.

“This indentation gives more flexibility to Mr. Kazimi and the Americans,” says Mr. Ford.

But the first record for Iraq, hit by the drop in oil prices, remains the economy.

In the long term, the “strategic dialogue” could ensure that u.s. contracts in the construction and energy and hints to aid the Gulf or the world Bank.

“Washington can’t give money, only propose not to apply sanctions”, that would deprive Iraq of its energy provider iran, the judge, however, Mr. Ford.

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