News ID: 77503
Publish Date : 16 April 2020 - 00:11
BAGHDAD (Dispatches) -- Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Wednesday he is determined to bring an end to any illegal presence of foreign boots, adding Baghdad will soon hold talks with Washington in this regard.
Speaking to Baghdad Today news website, Kadhimi said he is "serious” about ending any manifestation of the illegal presence of foreign forces in Iraq.
Baghdad will discuss with Washington the nature of its presence on Iraqi soil soon, he said, adding Iraq should not be used as a field to settle scores.
Kadhimi has been trying to set up a new cabinet amid public calls for social welfare and the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces from the Arab country.
Last week, he met with top members of the outgoing government in a bid to put together his cabinet and bring an end to a long-lasting power vacuum.
Kadhimi said the third person tapped for the post of prime minister in just 10 weeks after former nominee Adnan al-Zurfi withdrew his bid.
Iran has welcomed Kadhimi’s nomination for the Iraqi premiership, calling the move a step in the right direction.
The new Iraqi prime minister-designate is facing several challenges, among them calls for economic reforms along with a meaningful fight against corruption in state institutions and the nation’s frustration with the U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Last week, U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Patriot missile launchers and two other short-range systems were in place at Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq’s Anbar Province and at the military facility in Kurdistan’s regional capital, Erbil.
They further noted that a short-range rocket system had been installed at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad.
The U.S. military build-up not only violates Iraq’s sovereignty, but also poses a threat to the country’s armed forces and defies an Iraqi parliament vote on January 5 that called for an end to the presence of all foreign troops.
The vote came two days after the U.S. assassination of General Soleimani in Iraq, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular
 Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, and eight other Iranian and Iraqi people.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently proposed that Washington and Baghdad "hold a strategic dialogue in June” to discuss the presence of American forces in Iraq.
Kadhimi has stressed that Iraq’s sovereignty was a "red line” and that he would not be flexible about it.
On Saturday, some Iraqi sources said Pentagon chief Mark Esper and Vice President Mike Pence had visited Ain al-Asad air base, where they held talks with the Iraqi president.
However, an official close to Salih told Al Mayadeen TV channel that he had held no meeting with foreign or American officials during his trip to Anbar Province.
Kadhimi is "a tough and smart fellow,” and as a veteran intelligence agency chief "likely has files on everyone of note and could call on those files to pressure people to toe the line,” said Dr. Paul Sullivan, a professor at the U.S. National Defense University.
Kadhimi said on Wednesday he will pursue an open policy based on the principle of common interests in the foreign and Arab-Islamic spheres.
The prime minister-designate further underlined the need for de-escalation as a prerequisite for attracting investments and diversifying the oil-dependent economy.
However, he has to secure the Iraqi parliament’s vote to form a cabinet.
A senior member of Iraq’s Fatah (Conquest) parliamentary coalition Sa’ad al-Sa’adi said Monday that political parties had set action on the parliament’s withdrawal vote as a condition for endorsing Kadhimi as prime minister.

* Comment: