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Opportunities, challenges in US-Iraqi dialogue – opinion


In an opinion article written by Dr. Pshtiwan Faraj and Bahroz Jaffar, the two researchers argue that it is now time to renegociate the strategic agreement between Iraq and the United States.
The full summary of the article which was published in Jerusalem Post can be found below:

Iraq witnessed many transformations and changes during that period, and Iran was the main entity influencing them.
Iraq is an important political, ideological, economic and security arena for Iran. The United States wants to have a specific and visible presence in Iraq. So there will be more Iranian-American competition in Iraq. This is why Iraq and the United States have a strategic dialogue with each other.
As a result, the US military and security sites are being strengthened and the US is training and strengthening Iraqi forces to weaken the role of political parties and militias whose reputation is declining day after day for lack of transparency, lack of accountability, nepotism, corruption and lack of the rule of law. All of these are undermining American efforts in Iraq for state building and reconstruction of the country, which has been hugely devastated by political conflict, sectarianism, terrorism and lack of sovereignty.
The United States believes that Iran and Turkey are interfering in Iraq’s affairs, and that arms are not in the hands of the state, but rather in the hands of militias or tribal leaders. The risk of developing ISIS sleeper cells is also a factor.
Corruption is a major threat to Iraq and the Kurdistan region. These crisess undermine not only Iraq, but might present a risk for the entire Middle East, neighboring countries and even the US and its coalition interests. Simply put, Iraq needs the USA to play a role of a savior because with the toppling of the former regime, America has opened a Pandora’s Box it cannot close.
Some believe that Iraq's Pandora box is yet unopened. With the next phase of Iraqi-American strategic dialogue the situation must be fixed, as the country cannot bear more crises. The US must also advocate to resolve issues between KRG and the central government, putting more pressure on all parties to make urgent reforms. The protests in the central and southern parts of the country demand better and more public services. Meanwhile, the situation in Kurdistan is very delicate because the KRG is lagging behind unable to pay public payroll and is literally bankrupted.
Therefore, it is necessary for the American administration to provide support to the Kurdish forces in conjunction with the deployment of the Patriot missile system, and not to hand over $249 million annually as assistance to the Peshmarga forces without conditions for reform.
A solution must also be found to deal with oil and gas income that are siphoned off by political parties. If not, then this will lead to further instability in the region and might be a cause for more Iranian and Turkish interference in the region. If public payrolls are not paid on a timely basis, this might lead to further extremism and radicalization among the youth who feel their futures are being stolen from them by the ruling parties.
With a new pandemic and the spread of poverty in the region, the people in the Kurdistan region and Iraq are expecting that even in the Iraqi Pandora’s Box there still remains hope and the strategic dialogue could be the Golden Fleece, and through it the Iraq people rightfully claim what is theirs, and also learn humility, compassion and respect, but also respect for laws and the need for accountability.