Macron pledges support for Iraq | MEO

04 Septembre, 2020, 14:35 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • After assassinations and kidnappings Iraqi activists ask if they should take up arms

'You have a transition to lead. "France's role is to help them do so", he said.

But there were few details on the much-vaunted "sovereignty" initiative.

There would likely be no announcements of new financial or military aid, Iraqi officials said.

"We will remain committed because the battle against Islamic State is ongoing but this has to be in the context of an agreement and protocol that respects Iraq's sovereignty", he said at a joint news conference with Kadhimi.

European powers, with the exception of Britain, opposed the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and have since taken a mostly ambivalent position towards the central government in Baghdad.

France is part of a US -led worldwide coalition tasked with helping the Iraqi security forces fight against the IS militants by carrying out airstrikes against their positions in Iraq and Syria as well as providing military equipment and training to Iraqi forces.

Iraq has been caught for years between its two main allies Iran and the United States, a balancing act that has become increasingly tortured since Washington's withdrawal in 2018 from a multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.

This year alone, a USA drone strike killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, prompting Iran to launch missiles against United States troops in Iraq.

France has stressed its support for Iraq in recent tumultuous months.

After assassinations and kidnappings Iraqi activists ask if they should take up arms

This is Macron's first official trip to Iraq.

Macron last week insisted that "the fight for Iraq's sovereignty is essential".

Unlike most foreign visitors, the French president did not stop over in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, but instead met Kurdish president Nechirvan Barzani in Baghdad.

It has also struggled to contain violent extremist groups such as the "Islamic State", which captured large swathes of the country in 2014, culminating in the sacking and occupation of Mosul.

Official Iraqi media said Mr Macron will discuss closer security co-operation with Iraqi officials, pointing to France's role as a member of the global coalition against ISIS.

Tensions are already high between France and Turkey over the conflict in Libya, where both Paris and Ankara have accused the other of meddling, and a dispute over offshore gas rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

French officials have said Paris is anxious by a resurgence in Iraq of Islamic State militants profiting from political uncertainty and rivalries between Iran and the United States.

"Macron is definitely trying to make a push for a France-facing Middle East", Bitar said.

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