A balanced French position supports the sovereignty of Iraq
A balanced French position supports the sovereignty of Iraq
Baghdad – French President Emmanuel Macron arrived Wednesday on his first visit to Iraq, with the aim of confirming France’s support for the country’s sovereignty and the independence of the Iraqi decision, far from any regional and international conflicts and tensions.
Macron met his Iraqi counterpart, Barham Salih, and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, during his one-day visit, which comes amid complex political tensions and a grinding economic crisis, which constituted tremendous pressure on Iraqi politics.
Macron said during a press conference, that Iraq faces two main challenges: the Islamic State and foreign intervention. “We are here to support Iraq and we will continue to support it,” he added.
He pointed out that the war against ISIS has not ended and is still continuing, and that ISIS fighters are still in the region.
He added that Iraq is facing foreign interference that would weaken the Iraqi government and state.
Macron said that “France is on the side of Iraq because it is in the interest of the international community to support Iraq,” noting that Iraq has a clear reform will and France is supportive of Iraq.
Saleh also said that Iraq should not be an arena for conflict among others. He stressed that his country still needs support in order to confront terrorism and extremism.
He valued France’s role in Iraq in confronting terrorism and extremism, and said, “We still have challenges, and we need the support of our friends to rebuild the affected areas and dry up the sources of terrorist financing.”
He explained that Iraq is looking forward to playing a pivotal role, stressing the need for the region to be in a state of security and stability through strengthening the role of Iraq.
He stressed, “We do not want Iraq to be an arena for conflict. Rather, Iraq’s sovereignty must be respected and not to interfere in its internal affairs.”
Macron is on his first visit to Iraq to this country in financial, security and political distress, but it is the third by a senior French official in less than two months to Baghdad, which in mid-July received the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, then the French Minister of Armies, Florence Parly at the end of a month. Last August.
“The visit of President Macron to Baghdad will focus on strengthening cooperation between Iraq and France, especially as Paris is looking forward to cooperation with Iraq as a fully sovereign state,” the Iraqi News Agency quoted the head of the advisory body in the Presidency, Ali Al-Shukry, pointing out that “France will work on Strengthening the foundations of cooperation in the economic, cultural and security fields.
He added, “France will support all official efforts calling for strengthening Iraqi sovereignty and dealing with Iraq as a fully sovereign state.”
Al-Shukry pointed out that “France has important activities in support of Iraq’s efforts to fight ISIS gangs, especially that a few days ago, a visit was made by the French Minister of Armies,” in which she confirmed that she would work with all efforts to support and strengthen the security capabilities of the Iraqi armed forces, specifically in the field of training, indicating that France has a role in the fight against ISIS. ”
And that “Iraq looks forward to strengthening and sustaining cooperation with France and developing it into other areas.”
An Iraqi official said that Macron’s visit on “the sovereignty of Iraq” also constitutes an indirect message to Turkey, which is continuously violating the sovereignty of Iraq under the pretext of fighting the Kurdistan Workers Party, which Ankara accuses of terrorism.
Turkey carried out a military air and ground operation in which it attacked Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq in July, which angered Baghdad, which condemned the violation of its territory.
Despite Baghdad’s objections and strong official protests against that campaign, Turkish forces continued their incursion into Iraqi territory, inflicting material and human losses in the villages and areas that these forces entered or were affected by aerial bombardment.
The tension is currently most intense between France and Turkey against the background of the continuous Turkish violations in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean, where the French militancy was clear in curbing an open Turkish appetite for control over the eastern Mediterranean region, which Ankara started with an agreement demarcating maritime borders with the Libyan Government of National Accord and then a military intervention that overturned the facts of the civil war in Libya. And escalation with Cyprus and Greece over exploration in the continental shelf.
“I assure you that tomorrow morning I will be in Iraq in order to launch, in cooperation with the United Nations, an initiative to support the process of sovereignty” in this country, Macron said during a press conference on Tuesday evening, at the end of his second visit to Lebanon in less than a month.
On Friday, Macron said in an interview with journalists that “the battle for the sovereignty of Iraq is essential” to allow “this people and this country, who have suffered greatly,” to “not submit to the inevitability of regional powers’ control and terrorism.”
He added, “There are leaders and people who are aware of this and want to determine their own destiny,” noting that “France’s role is to help them do so.” Macron indicated that he intends to “build with them a strong initiative, in cooperation with the United Nations, for the sovereignty of Iraq.”
And Iraq has been stuck for years between its two most influential partners Washington and Tehran, and has become in an increasingly difficult position since 2018, with the United States led by Donald Trump launching a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
Iraq, which witnessed a strong protest movement last year, faces a difficult economic situation, as the Covid-19 epidemic exacerbated the difficulties in Iraq, the second black gold exporting country in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which was affected to a large extent by the decline in oil prices.
The advisor to the Iraqi prime minister, Hashem Daoud, said Tuesday that the visit “is of great importance, as it is the third for a French official in a month.”
The message carried by the French President will meet with that of his foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited Baghdad in July and stressed “the importance of the flute in the self from the surrounding tensions.” On August 27, French Foreign Minister Florence Parly visited Baghdad and Erbil, stressing the need to continue fighting ISIS.
“We are convinced that the battle against ISIS is not over,” she said. We stand with you. ”
Macron called for a “de-escalation” after the United States assassinated General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, upon his arrival in Baghdad. In the same attack, the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Authority, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed. Tehran responded by bombing US forces in western Iraq.
Macron’s visit comes after Donald Trump announced on August 21 that he would withdraw his forces from Iraq, without specifying a timetable for that. There are still about five thousand US soldiers and diplomats in Iraq.
Iran supports the powerful Popular Mobilization Forces, which are part of the Iraqi forces, and demands the withdrawal of the Americans from Iraq.
France did not participate in the US invasion that toppled former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but in 2014 it joined the military coalition against ISIS, which contributed to defeating the jihadist organization in Syria and Iraq. The last of the French forces left Iraq earlier this year.
In response to a question about French jihadists imprisoned in Iraq, the French president said that “those who freely choose to go to fight in foreign arenas and be convicted of committing terrorist acts in a sovereign state” should “be tried in this country”.
Of the 150 French arrested on charges of joining the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the vast majority of them are held in camps and detention centers of the Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria, while 11 French jihadists are being held in Iraq, where they have been sentenced to death.
Macron will not visit Erbil, according to Iraqi sources, who indicated that he will meet with Kurdish officials in Baghdad.
In 2017, shortly after his arrival in the Elysee, Macron mediated between the Kurdish authorities and the Iraqi government after disputes arose due to the Kurds organizing a referendum on independence that Baghdad opposed.
Macron said at the time, “That Iraq be strong, reconciled and pluralistic, and that it recognizes every component of it is a condition for immediate and medium-term stability” for the Middle East.