April 6, 2020 / 11:30 PM
Iraq and US ready to begin new strategic dialogue: Abdul Mahdi

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi met with US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller on Sunday, April 5, as leaders from both countries indicate that they are ready to begin a new strategic dialogue.

Tensions between the US and Iran have played out in Iraq over the last several months, putting Baghdad in an uncomfortable and dangerous situation between two of its most important allies. The US blames Iranian-backed militias for deadly rocket attacks on US and coalition troops, while Iraq has objected to US retaliations for those attacks as a violation of its sovereignty.

Following the US’ assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Sulaimani and top Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in early January, the Council of Representatives held an indicative vote asking Abdul Mahdi to request the departure of US forces, which Washington declined to do. US troops are present in the country at the request of Baghdad as part of the effort to fight Islamic State, NRT reported.

In a tweet about Sunday’s meeting, Abdul Mahdi said that he welcomed “the opening of a strategic dialogue between the Iraqi and American governments, in order to achieve their mutual interests and in light of decisions and developments in Iraq and the region.”

Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim said in a tweet on Sunday evening that his office had formally received notice about Washington’s desire to begin the strategic dialogue in order “to conduct a comprehensive review on the future of relations in the economic, cultural, commercial and security exchanges, bilaterally and regionally.”

“We welcome this initiative and will set an appropriate date,” Hakim added.

Some commentators have argued that by taking a hard line against the apparent wishes of the Iraqi parliament, Washington risks alienating even sympathetic groups within the country and undermining its own interests.

In 2008, the US and Iraq signed the Strategic Framework Agreement, which governs relations between the two countries.

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