In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Farhad Vafaei Fard, referred to the recent political developments in Iraq and formation of the government after about a year and noted: The review of the nominated ministers shows that the Sadr movement, which had left the parliament, is not present in the government. From among the people who were present within the framework of Shiite coordination, more figures close to the Resistance groups and Hashd al-Shaabi have a share in the government. The prime minister also has representatives in the government along with the State of Law Coalition. Of course, the “National Wisdom Movement” related to Mr. Hakim and the “Nasr” movement led by Mr. Al-Abadi have almost no representatives in the government. Sunnis and Kurds are also present in the government as before.
Saying that the government in Iraq has many challenges in the domestic, economic and foreign policy fields, he added: The foreign policy of a country like Iraq is more subject to the structures of the country rather than to the level of the agents. In fact, more than the change of governments brings changes in Iraq’s foreign policy, the logic and the discourse that prevails in that country’s foreign policy plays a role.
Principles of foreign policy in Iraq
The analyst of Iraq affairs called “maintaining balance”, “détente” and “diversification of political relations and sources of meeting economic needs” as three important components in the logic of Iraq’s foreign policy and explained: Iraq is looking for a balanced foreign policy on the basis of which it would not be placed in an axis against another axis. In addition, if we examine Iraq’s relations in the past decade, we will see that they have tried not to enter into tension and hostile relations with any of their neighbors or even extra-regional powers, and to resolve conflicting relations between some countries through mediation. Furthermore, they consider a wide range of political relations and want diverse sources in terms of meeting their economic needs.
Vafaei Fard considered historical and identity, geopolitical and discourse issues as the causes for such Iraqi approach and said: It seems that the discourse of nationalism and reconstruction thinking is being strengthened in Iraq. Within such framework, we have witnessed the increasing economic relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the connection of its electricity grid to the Persian Gulf countries and Turkey, numerous plans to supply electricity from countries other than Iran, in addition to maintaining contracts with Tehran and playing a role in the “New Levant” plan with the presence of Jordan and Egypt.
Stating that Iraq believes in normal relations with Iran and conflict management, he added: In the same framework, the new Iraqi government is also trying to continue the Iran-Saudi negotiations case, but considering that Saudi Arabia’s relations with Mr. al-Kadhimi, were very close, it is questionable how far the new prime minister will succeed in continuing that path.
Need for Iran’s efforts to deepen economic relations with Iraq
Emphasizing that Iran should make more efforts in deepening its economic relations with Iraq, the expert on Iraq affairs reminded: In the first seven months of the current year, the average monthly export of Iran to Iraq has reached 570 million dollars; while in the same period last year, the number was around 780 million dollars, and these figures show that Iran’s exports to Iraq have decreased by around 26 percent. Iran should further expand relations with new business methods and diversification of exports, joint ventures and providing various services, including technical-engineering services, and at the same time, not to neglect cultural and media issues.
While pointing to the role and position of Iraq in the Axis of Resistance, Vafaei Fard noted: It seems that with the change of government and the new prime minister, the friction between the government and the Resistance groups will be significantly reduced; because Mr. “Shia al-Sudani” is a representative of the coordination framework of Shiites and is close to the Resistance groups. Therefore, this gap will be reduced to a significant extent and at least in the official arena, the policies that were followed before by the security apparatus to weaken Hashd al-Shaabi will be reduced or stopped.
He added: If the regional conditions remain unchanged, due to the alignment of the new prime minister and the Resistance groups, the number and volume of operations against the US in Iraq will be reduced.
The analyst of Iraq affairs, while referring to the news published by some media about the Zionist regime’s efforts to normalize relations with Iraq, emphasized: Basically at the official and public levels; The issue of normalization of relations between Iraq and the Zionist regime is not serious and does not have much demand in the Iraqi society and among political activists of that country. However, the regime has a relationship with some Kurdish groups, and it seems that some members of Iraqi Sunnis are also willing to have such relationship. Although this issue was followed during the Trump era, it seems unlikely that it will be seriously considered in this period.
Vafaei Fard stated that it seems that Iraq’s relations with China will expand further in the new era, adding: Mr. al-Kadhimi was more interested in expanding relations with the US and some European countries such as France and especially the countries that are members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council; but it seems that the new prime minister will follow the policy of looking to the East more than before.
According to the expert on Iraq affairs, in the current situation, the United States has a serious need for the stability of oil production in Iraq, and considering the presence of American companies in Iraq, they do not agree with the emergence of severe tension in Iraq; however, these issues depend on the speed of the new Iraqi government’s move towards China and economic cooperation with them. The US wants to maintain a balance between the presence of American and Chinese companies in Iraq.