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Baghdad today - follow-up
French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to make a visit, the third of its kind, to Baghdad since he took office in 2017. According to observers, he will devote it to supporting his country’s investments in Iraq and improving the atmosphere between Baghdad and Kuwait, in preparation for the third Baghdad conference, in which he will participate in addition to the leaders of Gulf countries and neighboring Iraq. After the failure of its preparatory meeting in New York due to the Khor Abdullah case .
Macron's visit comes amid successive French losses in its positions in Africa, following the coups that the African continent witnessed recently, and in light of doubts about the European country's ability to consolidate or expand its gains in Iraq, given its differences with the United States of America, which has the greatest influence in Iraq and the region .
Nizar Haider, a political analyst based in Washington, said during an interview, “France has a great interest in Iraq on two levels. The first is bilateral, and includes the fields of energy and security specifically, and the second is at the ocean and regional level through its adoption of the Baghdad Conference project, which will be held in its third edition in The capital, Baghdad, next month .
Haider adds, “On the first level, French investment in Iraq is of great importance, as the contracts of French oil companies, specifically Total, exceeded more than 30 billion dollars. It is an important investment that contributes to solving many of the economic problems that Paris is currently going through, which caused... It has sustained crises manifested by protests, sit-ins and strikes .”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani received the Advisor for Middle East and North Africa Affairs in the Presidency of the French Republic, Patrick Durel, and during the meeting, the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Iraq was discussed, and the development of bilateral relations between the two countries was discussed, in accordance with the strategic agreement. The comprehensive agreement signed between them, according to an official statement from Al-Sudani’s office .
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahhaf also announced earlier that French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will visit Baghdad at the end of this month .
The political analyst confirms that “the French military presence in Iraq is within the framework of the international coalition for the war on terrorism, and it is of great importance to Paris in particular, because it participates in the fighting and not, as the government rumored, that its role is for advice and training, and what revealed the matter was the news of the phone call made by the Sudanese.” With the French President a few weeks ago to offer his condolences for the killing of a French soldier who was participating with the Iraqi forces in a special operation against ISIS .”
Haider explains, “As for the second level, France is currently seeking to heal the rift that recently occurred at the Baghdad conference between Iraq and Kuwait, as a result of the Federal Court’s decision to cancel the treaty regulating navigation in Khor Abdullah, which was signed between them. The decision embarrassed the Iraqi government, especially during the presence of the delegation.” The Iraqi Foreign Ministers, headed by Al-Sudani, were in New York. The foreign ministers of the Baghdad Conference countries were scheduled to hold a preparatory meeting on the sidelines of their presence in New York, but the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers sent a joint letter apologizing for not attending the meeting, which led to its cancellation. What happened prompted France, which is the sponsor of the Baghdad conference, to take urgent political and diplomatic action to improve the atmosphere among the members to ensure that the conference will be held at the time specified for it .”
Iraq entered into a crisis with Kuwait, after the Federal Supreme Court issued a decision declaring the unconstitutionality of the Khor Abdullah Agreement signed between the two countries, which prompted the Gulf Cooperation Council to issue a statement rejecting the decision, and they considered it a “historical fallacy.” To date, the crisis has not been resolved and has remained suspended .
It is noteworthy that the “Baghdad 2” conference was held on December 20, 2022, in the Jordanian capital, Amman, after a first session held in Baghdad in August 2021, on an Iraqi-French initiative, with the participation of Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, and Iran .
It is noteworthy that Macron said in his statements after the Baghdad II conference: “When the Jordanian king visited me in Paris, I convinced him of the necessity of holding this conference, because it is in the interest of all of us, and Abdullah took a risk in doing so, and we exchanged many phone calls with the Sudanese Prime Minister, and his acceptance of this conference is a victory, We held a meeting in a small setting, without the Turks and Iranians, and we began to draw up lines of action .”
In addition, Ali Fadlallah, a political analyst close to the coordination framework, believes that “France is one of the most important European Union countries interested in the Iraqi file, given that Iraq is an emerging market in all fields of armament and infrastructure, as well as the size of the natural resources present in it. ”
Fadlallah points out that “Iraq was one of the first countries that moved to strengthen its economic and commercial relations with France, especially since the Sudanese visit to Paris, after the formation of his government, was with the intention of French companies entering the Iraqi market forcefully. ”
He continues, "The French President's visit to Iraq will not be protocol. Rather, it will aim to conclude very important agreements, in addition to holding the Baghdad conference, as France is considered one of the countries supporting him on the security and political levels. "
At the beginning of this year, Al-Sudani signed the strategic partnership agreement with French President Emmanuel Macron, which was considered the first of its kind between Baghdad and Paris. It includes 4 chapters, 6 sections, 50 articles, and 64 paragraphs. Among the most prominent of its contents are: strengthening cooperation to confront the dangers of terrorist threats and combating extremism. Forming bilateral committees in the fields of defense and security, following up on the implementation of annual plans for bilateral defense cooperation, and strengthening Iraqi military defense capabilities by developing the necessary skills, facilitating the provision of French-made military equipment, and activating the exchange of information and military intelligence between the two parties .
It is noteworthy that Iraq concluded many agreements with America, starting with the Strategic Framework Agreement in 2008, which mostly focused on the security aspect and the presence of American forces in Iraq, and also stipulated that the two parties agree to continue their close cooperation in strengthening and sustaining the military, security and political institutions. And democracy in Iraq, according to what they may agree upon, including cooperation in training, equipping and arming security forces, in order to combat local and international terrorism and outlaw groups, at the request of the Iraqi government .
For his part, political analyst Ghaleb Al-Daami says, “France does not have a good relationship with the United States of America, and this is very clear, and therefore the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Iraq will not be effective, without the American administration’s approval and support for the visit. ”
He points out that "France lost many of its economic positions in Africa, and began heading to Iraq, which welcomed it, but this visit will not be effective and have goals and results without America's support for it," indicating that "France will not get anything from Iraq and will not be able to “With any of the large and important projects, it sought to do so during the government of Adel Abdul Mahdi and the government of Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, and now it is renewing its efforts, but there is no reliance on this visit, due to American dissatisfaction with it. ”
It is noteworthy that France seeks to take a role in Iraq, on the security and economic levels, and this was greatly embodied during the previous government headed by Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, as French President Emmanuel Macron visited Iraq more than once, in addition to the visit of French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly to Baghdad .
Source: New World newspaper