By: LtCol Ali AlBedwawi, UAE MOD, CSAG CCJ5
16 Aug 2021
The delegations of the Republic of Iraq, led by Dr. Fuad Hussein, Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the United States of America, led by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, co-chaired the final session of the June 11, 2021 Strategic Dialogue. The Strategic Dialogue is a continuation of the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation (SFA) between the US and Iraq. The Iraqi delegation also included representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The US and Iraqi governments reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the long-term strategic partnership defined by the SFA. Discussions centered on the following key concerns: regional stability, public health, climate change, energy efficiency, energy independence, humanitarian aid, human rights, economic cooperation, and cultural and educational exchanges. Iraq provided a detailed accounting of its efforts to promote the safe and voluntary return of internally displaced persons to their home regions, and the US pledged its continued support to this effort. The US reaffirmed its respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and laws, and pledged to continue providing the resources Iraq needs to maintain its territorial integrity. The Government of Iraq also declared its commitment to protecting and empowering the Coalition personnel tasked with advising Iraqi Security Forces.
The Iraqi government maintains that all Coalition Forces in Iraq are there by invitation. The delegations emphasized that the bases hosting the US and other Coalition personnel operate under existing Iraqi laws, and the presence of international staff in Iraq is only to support the Government of Iraq’s fight against ISIS.
In response to the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, the Coordinating Committee of the Iraqi Resistance Factions released a statement, declaring the US and Iraqi governments were attempting to repackage the continuation of the US “occupation” of Iraq. This paper will examine the Coordinating Committee of the Iraqi Resistance Factions’ response, possible ramifications, Iranian interests, and provide additional political and economic context.
- The ramifications from the Coordinating Committee of the Iraqi Resistance Factions’ statements regarding the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue are likely to be felt within the political and information domains.
- Nasr Al-Shammari, Deputy Secretary-General of the Al-Nujaba Movement, one of the Shiite Popular Mobilization factions, threatened to continue targeting US forces in Iraq regardless of superficial attempts to retitle the US “occupation.”
- Muqtada al-Sadr has expressed concern that a US withdrawal will increase the power of the Shiite militias linked to Iran.
- Iranian leaders and their Iraqi allies, claim that the purpose of US forces is to counter Iran and not to defeat the Islamic State.
- Iranian leaders consider the US-Iraq announcement of the ending of a US combat mission as a success for Iran’s strategy to expand its regional influence and control.
The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.