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Samson:  Prime Minister’s Office: Al-Kazemi will visit the United States next week

08/08/2020 12:11:25

The Office of the Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, announced on Saturday that the latter will start a visit to the United States of America next week.

The office stated, in a statement that Al-Furat News received a copy of, that “the Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi, begins next week, an official visit to the United States of America, at the head of a government delegation, based on an official invitation.”

The office added, “Al-Kazemi will meet US President Donald Trump, on the twentieth of this month.”

He continued: “The visit will include discussing the files of bilateral relations between Iraq and the United States of America, issues of common interest, joint cooperation in the fields of security, energy, health, economy and investment, and ways to enhance them, in addition to the file to address the Corona pandemic, and bilateral cooperation to serve the common interests of the two countries.” LINK

Boxman:  Pence gives new Iraq prime minister a warm embrace ahead of expected U.S. visit

Updated: August 6, 2020 –

A potential mid-August summit could focus on Iraq’s needs for debt relief, stable electricity, trade and security and Trump’s desire to bring troops home.

Vice President Mike Pence is giving Iraq’s new prime minister a warm embrace ahead of an expected visit to the White House later this month, saying the administration has high hopes Mustafa al-Kadhimi can return his country to prosperity and peace after two decades of war.

Al-Kadhimi’s visit, which U.S. officials told Just the News could happen Aug. 18-21, comes at a critical time for both Washington and Baghdad.

President Trump is looking for a partner to help him fulfill one of his last open campaign promises — to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq after 17 years of war.

Al-Kadhimi, who earned U.S. trust as the country’s intelligence chief before being named prime minister in April, is looking for urgent help to boost Iraq’s sagging economy, which has been stifled by war, sectarian strife, the pandemic and a sudden drop in oil prices and a shortage of electricity during a long, hot summer.

The need for help grows more dire as Iraq approaches debt ceilings it cannot exceed.

Pence told Just the News in a written statement Thursday night that the Trump administration is eager to assist al-Kadhimi in carrying out his promised reforms and bringing long-term economic stability and security.

“When I visited Iraq last November, I learned firsthand the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a rebuilt and stable nation,” Pence said. “Prime Minister al-Kadhimi is determined to implement reforms that reflect these aspirations, and the United States supports a strong, sovereign, and prosperous Iraq.”

Al-Kadhimi has signaled his commitment to reforms with several moves, including freeing some political protesters and setting new elections for 2021, a year before they were planned.

And his planned first visit to Washington as prime minister has been preceded by some extensive shuttle diplomacy.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the first actions to help al-Kadhimi with an energy crunch shortly after he took over as prime minister, signing a temporary waiver to allow Baghdad to buy badly needed electricity from neighboring Iran without violating sanctions.

State Department officials then held an official strategic dialogue with al-Kadhimi’s new government in June, meetings that ended with a commitment for economic and security assistance ahead.

Late last month, Iraq’s oil minister met U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to discuss new ways the two countries could jump-start Iraq’s oil industry, including such ideas as a partnership with the semi-autonomous Kurds. “Iraq’s energy sector is full of promise, and together, @ENERGY  can work on policies to chart a sustained energy future for the Iraqi people,” Brouillette tweeted after the meeting.

In between, al-Kadhimi made a brief visit to Iran, where he signaled a desire for better relations with Iraq’s meddlesome neighbor by vowing he would not allow attacks on Iran to be launched from Iraqi soil.
As the meeting between al-Kadhimi and Trump draws near, several ideas have been floating around Washington for how the West can assist Baghdad on its most pressing issues: maintaining and growing security stability, rooting out long-rampant corruption and jump-starting a long-stalled economy made worse by COVID-19 and low oil prices in recent months.

Among the ideas being discussed in official and unofficial policy arenas:

Creating an oil marketing and distribution agreement between Iraq’s oil ministry and the Kurdish Regional Government, an idea first floated late in the Obama administration and renewed in recent weeks under Trump as an American energy company has offered its assistance for such a plan.

Seeking debt relief and economic investment from some of Iraq’s Arab neighbors

Converting some U.S. tax dollars committed to supporting U.S. troops on Iraqi soil in 2021 and 2022 to provide either debt relief or economic investment to help Baghdad to jump-start its economy, produce more electricity and keep its government from hitting its debt limits.

Continuing to transfer more of the daily security tasks from U.S. troops to Iraqi forces as the latter continue to improve capabilities.

Finding ways to lessen the threat from Iran-backed militias that for years have created violence, strife and chaos on the streets

The stakes and rewards for both country’s leaders are high: Trump is widely known to want to complete his promised drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq, and al-Kadhimi needs signs of rapid economic, political and security progress to strengthen his hold on power to a degree that his predecessors as prime minister failed to achieve.

His call for early elections signaled he knows the populist wave that ushered him into office will be short-lived without measurable progress on such issues as rooting out corruption, providing stable electricity and enhancing security in the face of threats ranging from ISIS to Iran.

Outside observers are watching with intrigue.

The situation in Iraq is a “wide-ranging subject,” Samir F. Ghattas, spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, told Just the News in a statement. “Iraq faces multiple security, political, humanitarian, social and economic challenges.”

Bilal Wahab, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said trade and U.S. troop levels will be the two most important issues being monitored at any summit between al-Kadhimi and Trump in Washington.

And Wahab said the meeting will give Trump an opportunity to define where Iraq ranks in his overall foreign policy strategy.

“Between the United States and Iraq, the main issues are, where is Iraq positioned in U.S. foreign policy? Is Iraq part of a U.S. Middle East policy? Is it to be used for anti-ISIS actions, or is it an arena for the maximum pressure on Iran policy? I think those are questions Washington is not clear on,” he said

What is missing,” he added, “is a normal relationship between the two countries, where Iraq itself has value that is not exclusively anti-ISIS or part of U.S. policy toward Iran. What is missing is a cultural and diplomatic exchange. A normal, full relationship. This relationship is not normal.”

A Washington meeting will provide “an opportunity to put this relationship on a normal path. If the PM comes to Washington, it will be an important step in a bilateral relationship.”

https://justthenews.com/world/middle-east/pence-gives-new-iraq-prime-minister-warm-embrace-ahead-expected-us-visit

Ross:  The need for help grows more dire as Iraq approaches debt ceilings it cannot exceed.

IMO – I DO NOT REMEMBER HEARING THIS BEFORE.  HOW CLOSE ARE THEY ?

Outside observers are watching with intrigue.

I KNOW WE ALL ARE WATCHING WITH HOPE & THE KUWAIT GROUP IS WAITING & WATCHING ALSO FOR AN ANNOUNCED RATE CHANGE.

Don961:  Soon … Al-Kazemi is in the White House

– Two Days Ago

Despite the outbreak of the Corona epidemic in the United States of America and the increasing controversy surrounding the holding of the American elections on time or postponed, this did not prevent the American White House from agreeing with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Iraq in determining the date of Mustafa Al-Kazemi’s Prime Minister visit to the United States of America and the meeting With US President Donald Trump, according to special information for the Links Center, it was decided to schedule the visit of Al-Kazemi to the United States of America on 20 and 21 of this month.

Setting the date of the visit and not postponing it or canceling it means that Iraq receives great attention from the American administration, and that the security and stability of Iraq comes in the highest priorities of the United States of America.

Mustafa Al-Kazemi negligently dealt with it with determination and strength to show that Iraq is able to impose its sovereignty and prestige on everyone. This visit also indicates that Mustafa Al-Kazemi is welcomed and praised by the American administration.

Despite the challenges and difficulties facing Mustafa Al-Kazemi, his train is proceeding in a balanced way, and according to special information for the Links Center for Research and Strategic Studies, the upcoming meeting with Al-Kazemi will discuss common issues between the two countries, such as the strategic framework agreement, the redeployment of American forces in Iraq, and the firm response of ISIS The terrorist and the financial crisis in Iraq as a result of the drop in global oil prices.

The bottom line is that setting the date of the visit is evidence that the United States is concerned with providing all support to Iraq, and also evidence that the United States of America deals with Mustafa Al-Kazemi as a statesman who strives hard to save Iraq from its crisis and return it to the political map as an influential and effective country in Its Arab, regional and international environment.

Al-Kazemi is able to do that with his leadership qualifications and national conscience. But he needs someone on his side internally and externally to make it happen.

Iraqi Studies Unit  LINK

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Samson:  Newspaper: Al-Kazemi Will Discuss Four Key Items During His Visit To The White House

8th August, 2020

The London-based Al-Arab newspaper expected Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi’s agenda to the United States of America on August 20, while indicating that the visit will be based on 4 basic items.

The newspaper revealed, citing Iraqi political sources, that Baghdad and Washington have set the date and agenda for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi’s visit to the United States. The sources stated that Baghdad and Washington had agreed that the visit would start on the twentieth of this August, indicating that the agenda includes four main items and a number of sub-items.

The exceptional circumstances that Iraq is going through, as well as the situation in the region and the world, give the character of an exceptional event to the visit, which some do not hesitate to raise the ceiling of expectations from it, considering that it will make a turning point in the regional and international relations of Iraq in view of the intensification of the competition for influence between Washington and Baghdad and reaching the stage of “breaking the bone.”

“Due to the policy of maximum pressure pursued by the administration of US President Donald Trump on Iran, and the latter threatening to use its capabilities to respond to those pressures, including the use of its Shiite militias in Iraq to strike US forces and interests there.

The sources confirmed that Al-Kazemi will meet during his visit to the United States, US President Donald Trump and a number of senior officials in the administration, including the defense and treasury ministers.

Economy file

Observers expect that the visit will have prominent political and security headlines, but Iraqi parties hope that the economy will be at the forefront of the files that will be opened during them, expressing their aspiration for real American assistance to Iraq in overcoming its severe financial crisis resulting from the coincidence of the Corona pandemic with the oil price crisis.

Those circles are relying on Al-Kazemi’s ability to negotiate with the American side over the security, political and economic files as a single package, which is what the Trump administration is expected to do in order to lure Baghdad to move away from Tehran by offering it remunerative financial alternatives.

With the intensification of the crisis on Iraq, talk began about the possibility of the country resorting to external borrowing, which is something the United States can play a role in by mediating with lenders, whether it is related to its friendly countries or the Monetary Fund, countries where it has strong influence.

The future of US forces in Iraq

The future of the US forces in Iraq and the ongoing missile attacks against them by militias affiliated with Iran will be the first item on the agenda of the visit, as the two sides are supposed to agree on a roadmap to reduce the international coalition mission participating in the US-led war against ISIS in Iraq. According to sources. But the reduction of the coalition mission will not affect the military cooperation between Iraq and the United States, which is the second item in the schedule of Al-Kazemi’s visit to Washington.

Cooperation in the military field 

The two sides will discuss strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the military field, including the continuation of the US training plans for Iraqi officers and pilots, and the provision of logistical support for the forces specialized in combating terrorism.

The sources reveal that the third item, which Al-Kazemi will discuss in Washington, is related to the American support for the economy and electricity sectors in Iraq, as Baghdad looks forward to supporting Washington in crossing the two stifling crises it suffers from in these two areas. The United States can help Iraq in obtaining soft loans, but it can also encourage its major companies to work directly in the field, to accomplish many stalled works due to corruption, favoritism and mismanagement.

America’s relationship with Iran 

The sources say that the fourth item on the agenda of Al-Kazemi’s visit to Washington is related to the chronic tension between the United States and Iran, adding that the Iraqi prime minister may want to play some role in smoothing the atmosphere between the two sides.

Observers believe that the remaining period until the date of the US presidential elections may witness some “acrobatic acts” by the United States or Iran on the soil of Iraq, which is what Al-Kazemi seeks to ensure that he will not trigger a comprehensive confrontation between the two parties.

Baghdad fears that either side of the tension, Iran and America, will slide into a military confrontation in the coming weeks, especially with Tehran’s deep suffering from the effects of Washington’s sanctions on it in the economic field.

Al-Kazemi’s visit to the states radically contradicts the nature of the relationship that Tehran wants between Baghdad and Washington, as the Iranians do not want more cooperation and coordination between the two parties in a way that narrows the area of their influence and interference in Iraqi affairs. By adhering to the US sanctions against it.

Iran is concerned that the visit will lead to understandings on how Iraq will get rid of the dependence on Iranian gas and electricity, which will facilitate the implementation of sanctions, and another regarding armed militias, controlling their weapons and strengthening the official security services through the use of US expertise and in-kind and technical assistance.

Against this background, observers of the Iraqi issue expect that Al-Kazimi will be subjected to severe pressure before and after the visit from Iran’s followers inside Iraq, to block any deep understandings that he might have with the United States. The Iraqi militias affiliated with Iran are afraid that the prime minister will enter into agreements to liquidate them or limit their capabilities with the United States, including allowing the targeting of their headquarters and leadership.

The Iraqi government’s permission for the United States to install a missile interceptor system inside the US embassy compound in Baghdad indicates Iraq’s willingness to facilitate the process of intercepting any Iranian plans in the region.

So far, the American system has contributed to intercepting two missile attacks on the US embassy, carried out by Iraqi militias affiliated with Iran, which means that these groups lose the privilege of attacking their targets at any time they choose. Informed sources reveal that the US forces have equipped their main sites in Iraq with larger systems to intercept Iranian militia attacks, or Iran’s own attacks.   LINK