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A New Leader Tries to Steer Iraq Through the U.S.-Iran Rivalry

Category: Iraq News

Date: 2020-05-30T09:49:30+0000
A New Leader Tries to Steer Iraq Through the U.S.-Iran Rivalry

Shafaq News / The American Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Newspaper considered that the task of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi lies in balancing between two opposing powers, the United States and Iran, and maintaining the "steering" of Iraq away from the possibility of turning into a battleground between them.

The American newspaper said in a report today, that The U.S. and Iran, adversaries across the Middle East, have quietly coalesced behind an Iraqi politician both see as critical to preventing further chaos in his country.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi, sworn in as prime minister this month with nods from both Tehran and Washington, is stepping in between two nations that have repeatedly clashed in Iraq. These tensions flared violently in January with the killing of Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. military strike on his convoy in Baghdad, followed by Iranian reprisal strikes...

"Within days of taking office, he ordered the raid on a small militia that killed a demonstrator in the southern city of Basra, in a move seen as a sign of his intention to curtail the more powerful factions linked to Iran,"

"Days later, in a clear step to reassure these Iranian-backed paramilitary groups, he visited their headquarters and praised their role in the war against ISIS," according to the newspaper's vision.

The newspaper quotes Ghaleb Al-Shabandar, an Iraqi political analyst who knows Al-Kadhimi since he was a teenager, saying: “He (Al-Kadhimi) makes friends, even with his enemies.”

Al-Kadhimi's supporters hope that he can maintain the fragile balance in order to put Iraq on a better track, after the country emerged from the war against ISIS and is currently struggling with the pressure of low oil prices.

WSJ noted that the challenges facing Al-Kadhimi are enormous, despite the decline in popular protests that forced his predecessor to resign, but the public anger is greater than ever.

Meanwhile, ISIS has intensified its attacks against Iraqi security forces, seeking to take advantage of the security challenges arising from Corona virus and cracks in the partnership between Washington and Baghdad.

The newspaper says that US officials worked closely with Al-Kadhimi as head of the intelligence agency during the war against ISIS, and his rise represented an opportunity to mend the relations that had faded under former Prime Minister ,Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

It quoted Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs ,David Schenker as saying that Al-Kadhimi had done a "good job" as chief of intelligence, while welcoming in partnership with him.

The two countries are scheduled to hold a strategic dialogue in June to define the terms of their future relationship, as Washington looks to reduce its commitments without enabling ISIS to reappear.

It also considers Al-Kadhimi a partner who is willing to prevent Iraq from being more drawn into Tehran.

A Western diplomat told the newspaper, "There is some hope and optimism that we have a partner who works first and foremost for Iraq."

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