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Iraq’s Delicate Geopolitical Situation


Iraq’s Delicate Geopolitical Situation

This situation analysis explains the latest updates about Iraq’s relations with Russia and the USA. Basically, to whom is Iraq leaning?

Iraq is in a delicate situation as it finds itself at the center of major power contention. The Iraqi government faces the difficult decision of choosing which seat to occupy, either the Russian or American seat.

This decision is pivotal, given the ongoing global contention between Russia and the United States of America (USA), particularly in Ukraine. Therefore, Iraq must become a beacon for peace and dialogue rather than abusing its relationships with Russia and the USA. Additionally, on a regional level, Iraq must consider the differing views of Iran and Saudi Arabia to prevent the possibility of war breaking out on its territory. This situation analysis will focus on the latest updates on Iraqi relations with Russia and the USA.

On February 6th, Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, visited the Republic of Iraq. [1]  During the visit, Fouad Hussein, the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, acknowledged the “old” and “historic” nature of Iraqi relations with Russia, meaning Iraq is slightly leaning towards Russia. [2] In 2018, Iraq purchased 73 T-90/SK tanks from Russia for $4.5 million each, demonstrating their defense ties. [3]  Furthermore, Lukoil, Gazprom, and Rosneft have invested in Iraq’s energy sector, making Russia a major player in the field. Lukoil, for instance, holds a 75% stake in the West Qurna 2 oilfield, which produces 450,000 barrels per day, while Gazprom and Rosneft jointly operate the Badra oilfield.[4] The ministers also discussed food security prospects, given the Ukraine war’s impact on food security in many Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq. [5]  Iran’s control over Iraq further evidences the growing relations between Iraq and Russia.

On February 10th, 2023, the American Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, met with the Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs in Washington, emphasizing the significance of the meeting. [6]  They agreed to collaborate on a strategic framework agreement between the United States and Iraq, with a current emphasis on the economic dimension of the relationship. [7]  Mr. Blinken emphasized that the USA’s work with Iraq aims to strengthen the country’s integration and reintegration into the region in ways that have a tangible impact on the lives of Iraqi citizens. [8] He also noted that electricity would be a key focus of this cooperation. [9]

At the Munich Security Conference on February 18, 2023, Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Mohammed Shia Al Sudani, highlighted that combating corruption is a top priority for his government to promote transparency and restore confidence in the political process. [10] He noted that his government, which took office in October of the previous year, is focused on addressing three key areas: unemployment, poverty, and public services.[11] Prime Minister Al Sudani also acknowledged that previous governments should have placed greater emphasis on these critical areas, particularly before the appointment of Mustafa Al-Khadimi in 2020, which marked a turning point for Iraq. [12]

There have been several positive developments in Iraq, including new social security and retirement laws that promote equality between the private and public sectors.[13]  Additionally, the Iraqi government has established a $400 million fund to provide small and medium-sized loans to Iraqi investors to help drive the country’s economy forward. [14] On February 23, 2023, Prime Minister Al Sudani launched 150 service and development-related projects in Baghdad to mark the centenary of the founding of the city’s municipality. [15] These initiatives reflect the government’s commitment to promoting economic growth and improving the lives of Iraqi citizens.

In conclusion, Iraq’s relations with other countries are steadily improving, and Prime Minister Al Sudani’s government is making efforts to steer the country in a positive direction.

However, Iraq needs to maintain a balanced approach in its foreign relations and avoid getting caught up in global conflicts by aligning too closely with one country. Striking a balance will enable Iraq to become a beacon of peace and prosperity in the region. The top priority for Iraq should be to stay out of regional alliances and work towards creating stability inside and outside the country.

This can be achieved by maintaining positive relations with neighbouring countries and avoiding policies that have caused problems in the past. By following this approach, Iraq can work towards achieving lasting peace and prosperity for its people.

[1] Naar, Ismaeel, and Sinan Mahmoud. “Russia’s Sergey Lavrov Visits Iraq for Talks on Energy and Regional Issues.” The National, February 23, 2023. https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/iraq/2023/02/06/russias-sergey-lavrov-visits-iraq-for-talks-on-energy-and-regional-issues/.

[2] Ibid, 1.

[3] Tollast, Robert. “Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to meet Prime Minister Al Sudani in Iraq.” The National, February 06, 2023. https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/2023/02/06/russias-sergey-lavrov-to-meet-prime-minister-al-sudani-in-iraq/.

[4] Ibid, 3.

[5] Ibid, 1.

[6] National, The. “Blinken Meets Iraqi Foreign Minister Hussein in Washington.” The National, February 23, 2023. https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/us-news/2023/02/09/blinken-meets-iraqi-foreign-minister-hussein-in-washington/.

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] Ibid, 6.

[9] Ibid, 6.

[10] National, The. “Corruption and Economy Are Iraq’s Priorities, PM Tells Munich Security Conference.” The National, February 26, 2023. https://www.thenationalnews.com/mena/iraq/2023/02/18/corruption-and-economy-are-iraqs-priorities-pm-tells-munich-security-conference/.

[11] Ibid, 10.

[12] Ibid, 10.

[13] Ibid, 10.

[14] Ibid, 10.

[15] Iraqi News Agency. “PM Reveals the Details of 150 Projects in Baghdad,” n.d. https://ina.iq/eng/25047-pm-reveals-the-details-of-150-projects-in-baghdad.html.




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