Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s state visit to the White House last week was a case of face-saving obscuration, for himself as well as for US President Joe Biden. For the American president, it was the symbolic but illusory transformation of his country’s military footprint in Iraq into an “advisory role”. For Mr. Kadhimi, it was not just a question of appeasing the many voices in Iraq calling for a complete withdrawal of the United States, but an attempt to present the future US-Iraqi relationship as one of equals, between two fully sovereign states.
If that was indeed the case, then President Biden, an outright foreign interventionist would not have adhered so obediently.
Iraq and the institutions that have been built there since the 2003 invasion remain of paramount importance to the United States and the wider Western ambitions to the region. The US reluctance to withdraw initially in the early 2010s was largely due to the fact that it had created a power vacuum in the heart of the region.
Without Saddam Hussein and his largely armed Western military machine that encircles the Iranians, the complete withdrawal of the United States would have seen Tehran fill the void, solidifying its arc of influence extending to the Syrian and Lebanese coasts.
Needless to say, this “new” US-Iraqi strategic dialogue will involve continued support for the post-invasion political and military elite, which Washington has tasked with subduing the Popular Mobilization Forces and blocking Iranian aid and materiel. its allies in Syria and Lebanon. . The expected demand from the conventional armed forces in arms and materiel is undoubtedly salivating defense companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Amid the usual diplomatic niceties, the most revealing sentence in the two leaders’ joint statement said, “The United States has expressed support for Iraq’s efforts to promote economic reform and strengthen regional integration, in particular. particularly through energy projects with Jordan and the interconnection of the CCG. Authority.”
It is now well known that Washington is pushing Iraq to merge its electricity grid with that of the GCC and other Arab states in the region in order to break its energy dependence on Iran.
US attempts to cement Iraq among its lineup of Arab allies are consistent with the accelerated pace of normalization with “Israel,” particularly by GCC member states. With multiple large-scale initiatives converging towards the south of the Levant and the north of the Red Sea, this integration aims to definitively link the fortunes of the Arab states to the fate of “Israel”.
The “Tracks for Peace” initiative, already underway, aims to link the rail networks of “Israel”, Jordan and the GCC states, creating a commercial land bridge between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, bypassing the Straits of ‘Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab. The envisaged volumes moving along this corridor are expected to reach US $ 250 billion per year by 2030.
Meanwhile, a supposedly separate but unmistakably familiar project gained momentum throughout the first half of the year, known as the “New Levant Economic Initiative,” a tripartite security and economic alliance between the Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. The project is openly presented as a way to isolate Iran and consolidate Western economic interests in the region, the most important of which is the astronomical sums left to be spent on post-war reconstruction of Iraq. and the future recycling of its energy surpluses. Among the elements of the deal is the 2,000 km Basra-Aqaba pipeline, which will also bypass maritime bottlenecks and could be extended to the Mediterranean via Egypt, or perhaps also “Israel”.
Like Egypt and the GCC states, Iraq is set to embark on a building frenzy, with at least 12 entirely new residential cities, a new capital outside Baghdad, energy megaprojects and what he hopes will become the region’s main maritime hub, the Grand Port of Faw near Basra. With more than US $ 100 billion in construction projects already planned, the United States and other Western governments have long viewed the Iraqi economy as one of the future engines of global economic growth.
With all of the other players in this trend either in the process of normalizing or already having direct relations with “Israel”, it is difficult to see how the inclusion of Iraq would be supposed to lead to anything other than normalization with Israel. State of Israel and full integration into the regional military architecture led by the United States.
Syria, which has also been devastated by years of foreign armed intervention, presents yet another tempting economic price tag, with its own reconstruction likely to require several hundred billion dollars in investment as well. If it were thus cornered, the architects of this “New Levant”, who could well seek to attract it in economic liberalization, would sever, in exchange, its links with “the Axis of the Resistance”.
With so much political (and real) capital converging on the eastern Mediterranean and northern Red Sea, it seems fanciful to assume that the United States sees its role in Iraq as over, or that it will not “advise” the country. in the direction of further economic liberalization and normalization with the Israeli state.
The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its author exclusively.