24 January 2020   Leave a comment

This will be my last post until 3 February. I am going on vacation and my fondest wish is to forget about domestic and international politics while I sit on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean, contemplating nothing more than the sound of waves and ice cubes clinking in a tall glass. We shall see how successful I can be.

Large protests demanding the removal of US troops in Iraq are occurring as groups sympathetic to Iran mobilize to that end. These protests accelerated after the US assassination of Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. But the protests have also been supported by groups that are less inclined to support Iranian influence. For now, Iraq is dependent on the US for financial and military assistance and it is unlikely that the Iraqi government will demand the withdrawal of US troops. But the Iraqis are turning to other countries, such as Russia, to replace US support. The Arab Weekly reports:

“It is in that context that a new wave of Iraqi nationalism emerged that seeks to make Baghdad more independent from foreign influence and agendas, allowing it to chart its destiny and future by itself. It is a growing Iraqi sentiment that would appear to support deeper engagement with Moscow.

“Russia has demonstrated a growing intent to position itself in the Middle East. Its military intervention in Syria and work in Iraq are two examples.

“Iraq-Russia trade has grown rapidly to nearly $2 billion and Russian investments in Iraq total more than $10 billion, mainly in oil and gas, with major Russian players such as Lukoil, Gazprom Neft, Soyuzneftegaz and Rosneft all expanding their footprints.

“Russia has signed agreements to expand ties with Iraq in electricity generation, agriculture and transportation and, last year, inaugurated a command centre in Baghdad under an intelligence-sharing agreement that includes Iran and Syria.”

The US has about 5,000 troops remaining in Iraq. Their mission has changed from confronting ISIS to one of containing Iran. Without those troops in Iraq, that task would fall primarily to US air and naval power, a poor substitute for ground troops in such a task.

Posted January 24, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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