BAGHDAD (Dispatches) -- Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has said that his upcoming visit to Washington is aimed at regulating Iraq’s relations with the United States and pushing for the withdrawal of foreign combat forces from the Arab country.
In an interview with Saudi-owned Al-Hadath television, Kadhimi said there is no need for the presence of foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil.
He also said that he would not allow his country to be used to threaten its neighbors.
The Iraqi prime minister is scheduled to visit Washington next week to push for a concrete timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
On Thursday, Kadhimi and U.S. envoy Brett McGurk discussed the issue in Baghdad.
The White House said on Friday that U.S. President Joe Biden will meet Kadhimi on July 26 to discuss “the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.”
Baghdad-Washington relations have been complicated since the U.S. assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror general Qassem Soleimani along with Deputy Commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization United (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport in January 2020, in a drone attack that was directly ordered by former president Donald Trump.
The assassination sparked the Iraqi parliament to vote for the expulsion of all U.S.-led foreign forces from the country, followed by U.S. positions in Iraq being repeatedly targeted.
In response, the U.S., under both Trump and Biden, has attacked the positions of Iraqi resistance forces, in particular PMU forces, which played a significant role in defeating Daesh terrorist group and are officially part of the Iraqi military.
A member of the politburo of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group, which is part of the PMU, stressed the need to fight off the “terrorist U.S. forces” in Iraq, saying there is no safe haven for the occupying American forces in the Arab country.
“Resistance groups intend to engage in a direct conflict with the U.S. military,” Saad al-Saadi said, al-Ebaa news agency reported on Sunday.
Al-Saadi stressed that the security, political, and economic problems in Iraq are caused by the U.S.
He also called on Kadhimi to be sensitive about Iraq’s sovereignty, noting that the Iraqi prime minister is facing a great challenge and he must prove his patriotism.
In remarks earlier this month, al-Saadi said Iraqi resistance groups had no choice but to confront the US militarily, noting that they stood ready to respond to any U.S. attack against the PMU forces.
He also said the resistance groups gave diplomacy ample opportunity, but the U.S. government took the opportunity to procrastinate, urging the Iraqi government to “demand the expulsion of Americans from Iraq.”
Some 3,500 foreign troops, including 2,500 Americans, are still in Iraq, with the alleged aim of preventing the re-emergence of Daesh in the country.
Observers, however, say Washington’s targeting of resistance forces is aimed at reviving Daesh and, in turn, prolonging its illegal occupation of Iraq under the pretext of fighting the terrorist group.
Elsewhere in his Sunday interview, Kadhimi said he will visit Tehran after the inauguration of new president Ebrahim Raisi, who will be sworn in early next month.
“We hope that we will not be an arena for the U.S.-Iranian conflict,” he said, emphasizing that Baghdad is in contact with Tehran because “we need stability.”
Kadhimi said negotiations between Iran and the U.S. will impact the region. He also said talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, hosted by Baghdad, will continue.
Nujaba Details UAE’s Subversive Acts in Iraq
Iraq’s al-Nujaba Movement said Monday the United Arab Emirates has made $13 billion from its destabilizing role in Iraq, criticizing the Iraqi government for preferring trade with a “small, non-producing country”.
Nasr al-Shammari, a spokesman for the resistance movement, hit out at the Baghdad government over the country’s large trade deficit with the UAE.
The spokesman said the deficit is due to the fact that Iraq exported mostly oil products worth $1.27 billion in 2019, while it received UAE re-exports of mainly communication and satellite equipment worth $13.7 billion in the year.
“In other words, the trade balance is equivalent to $12.43 billion in favor of the UAE,” he said.
“This is while, Iraq’s imports from Qatar were worth about $30 million, from Saudi Arabia worth about $700 million and from the United States worth $1.2 billion,” Shammari said.
Citing official figures, Shammari put Iraq’s exports to China at $22 billion against $9 billion of imports from the Asian country.
The country’s imports from Turkey stand at about $10 billion, and from Iran at $8 billion, nearly $1 billion of which is for the purchase of gas for power plants.
These figures, Shammari said, are “understandable and justifiable”, given that the trade involves large countries such as the U.S., China, Iran and Turkey, but not with the UAE which he described “a port with a number of commercial offices” producing nothing.
He also questioned Baghdad’s refusal to trade directly with productive countries such as China, and instead importing low quality and energy-intensive equipment from the UAE amid a power crisis in the country.
Shammari said any multimillion-dollar trade with a country requires respect for its sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs, but the UAE has played a destructive role in Iraq, citing its subversive acts against the development of al-Faw port on the mouth of the Persian Gulf.
“The UAE is the main loser from the inauguration of this project, as it would lose billions of dollars annually when it opens. Therefore, it has no problem with spending one billion dollars to set fire to Iraq and stop the al-Faw Grand Port project.”
Iraq agreed a $2.625 billion deal with South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction in December 2020 to build the first phase at its planned Faw commodities port in the south of the country.
Earlier this year, an Iraqi lawmaker revealed the destructive role that the United Arab Emirates plays in Iraq, saying the UAE’s national security advisor was in charge of implementing the Emirati agenda that aims to destabilize the country.
“The UAE received the Iraqi file at the request of the U.S. and the Zionist entity after Daesh occupied a number of provinces,” Kazem al-Sayadi, noting that Abu Dhabi has “death squads” in most countries across the world.
He said UAE National Security Advisor Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan buys positions in ministries and assigns them to corrupt figures to implement the country’s “destructive” agenda in southern and central Iraq and to target the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known as Hashd al-Sha’abi.
The PMU is a government-sponsored umbrella organization composed of around 40 factions of volunteer counter-terrorism forces, including mostly Shia Muslim groups, besides Sunni Muslims, Christians and Kurds. The force played a major role in the liberation of the entire Iraqi land from the control of the terrorists in December 2017.
According to al-Sayadi, an Emirati security team had arrived in Iraq to manage the Iraqi intelligence service and make Iraq a subordinate to the UAE which itself is “basically a subordinate of the Zionist entity”.