After the drone assassinations of senior Iraqi politician Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian general Qassim Soleimani, Washington hopes that agreeing issues of mutual economic interest will result in Iraqi calls for immediate troop withdraw to disappear.
But the hype surrounding these talks overlooks profound problems in the relationship. US foreign policy under Donald Trump is frankly incoherent and, beyond the bluster, focused on reducing US commitments across the Middle East, which has led to a rapid decrease in America’s diplomatic presence in Baghdad.
Added to this is that Iran has steadily increased its influence over Iraq’s ruling elite to the point where there is a distinct lack of freedom of action.… Seguir leyendo »
In March and April, an extensive opinion poll carried out across Iraq found that the population were only united by very high levels of pessimism about the future of their country. At the centre of their concerns, and the key factor in driving mistrust, is the issue of corruption.
In the poll, 82 per cent of Iraqis were concerned or very concerned about corruption at the highest levels of government; 83 per cent perceived corruption to be getting worse. It appears clear: politically sanctioned corruption among senior politicians and civil servants is systematically undermining popular faith in the Iraqi government and destroying the legitimacy of its leaders in the eyes of the population.… Seguir leyendo »
On 10 June, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), the group whose dramatic advances have startled the world over the past 72 hours, posted a photograph of their fighters demolishing barriers marking the dividing line between Syria and Iraq. They were, they claimed, "smashing the Sykes-Picot border". This was a reference to the British diplomat Sir Mark Sykes and his French counterpart, François Georges-Picot who, in May 1916, concluded secret negotiations to divide the Middle East into French and British zones of imperial influence.
Isis's symbolic destruction of the border was an attempt to give credence to its claim to be sweeping away the false states created by the nefarious European powers, uniting all Muslims in one pious community.… Seguir leyendo »
In November 2002 I was one of six experts who met Tony Blair in Downing Street in a largely futile attempt to explain to him the size of the task that he was about to undertake in Iraq. I pleaded with the prime minister: "Are you prepared to commit yourself and your government to a generation-long project needed to rebuild this country?" "Yes," he answered without a moment's hesitation. A month before the invasion, as a million people marched through the streets trying to stop the war, Blair got to his feet in Glasgow attempting to justify the most unpopular decision of his premiership.… Seguir leyendo »