IraqMiddle EastNorth AmericaQasem Suleimani

Iraqi PM-designate says resolved to end illegal foreign military presence

Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Mustafa al-Kadhimi has expressed his resolve to bring an end to any illegal presence of foreign boots on the ground in the Arab country, saying Baghdad will soon hold talks with Washington in this regard.

Speaking to Baghdad Today news website on Wednesday, Kadhimi said that he was “serious” about ending any manifestation of the illegal presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

He also noted that Baghdad would, in the near future, discuss with Washington the nature of its presence on Iraqi soil.

Iraq should not be used as a field to settle scores, he stressed, adding that he would pursue an open policy based on the principle of common interests in the foreign and Arab-Islamic spheres.

Kadhimi further underlined the need for de-escalation as a prerequisite for attracting investments and diversifying the oil-dependent economy.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted for a resolution that called for an end to the presence of all foreign troops, including the Americans.

The vote came two days after the US military — acting on President Donald Trump’s order— launched a fatal drone strike on senior Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani upon his arrival in the Iraqi capital at the invitation of the Baghdad government.

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The attack also claimed the lives of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, along with eight other Iranian and Iraqi people.

The assassination operation stoked anti-US sentiment in Iraq, where Washington has not only defied calls to withdraw, but also reinforced its military presence by deploying troops and equipment.

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On Monday, Sa’ad al-Sa’adi, a senior member of the Fatah (Conquest) parliamentary coalition, said the country’s political parties had set action on the parliament’s withdrawal vote as a condition for endorsing Kadhimi as prime minister.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kadhimi, director of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, emphasized that his most important criteria for selecting ministers were honesty and efficiency.

He is the third candidate for leading Iraq since former prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned last year amid violent anti-government protests against unemployment and the lack of basic services.

Kadhimi said that the list of his ministers was ready, and that he was currently negotiating with political factions to introduce his cabinet to the parliament as soon as possible.

The Iraqi prime minister-designate also noted that his government’s top priority was to hold snap elections, urging all Iraqi political groups to cooperate in resolving challenges such as the economic crisis, declining oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

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