Iraq hosted a symbolically important event in the capital Baghdad on August 28. Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Francebesides Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Islamic cooperation organization“Baghdad Cooperation and Partnership Conference” was held, in which .
The conference, where the efforts of the Baghdad government in the reconstruction of Iraq were supported by the participants, the need to act jointly in the fight against terrorism, and the integration of regional and national efforts to ensure regional stability were discussed, only French President Emmanuel Macron from outside the region attended the conference and even took an active role in the organization of the conference. attracted attention. It is suggested that Macron, who made his second visit in the last year to Iraq, where the US will withdraw its combat troops at the end of the year, and wants to turn the relative power vacuum that will be experienced after the withdrawal into an opportunity, seeks to consolidate his influence in the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Iraq and the Middle East countries. output.
After Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Iraq’s relations with the region came to a breaking point. The Baghdad conference is an important step in itself, as it has not hosted such a conference since 1980. Iraq, which has shown signs of recovery, albeit relatively, in recent years, showed its tendency to be constructive in the regional sense at the conference, where it was able to include different actors in the same frame despite all its fragility.
Presence of Macron in the organization of the conference seems to have had an impact on the participation of the countries in the region. Iraq, which is known to act as a mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia, is trying to overcome the political, economic and social rehabilitation obstacles in front of its desire to return to the regional league with these steps. In this sense, Macron, who used the words “The success of the Iraqi people will be the success of all existing partners” at the conference, aims to put his political weight as well as wanting to take advantage of the economic market that will emerge in the context of regional normalization. By taking an active role in bringing the countries of the region together, France is trying to attribute a global playmaker role to itself. Especially considering its historical hegemony in the region, it can be said that France wishes to be one of the influential powers at the table in the vacuum that will occur after the withdrawal of the USA.
On the other hand, when it is calculated that 40 days are left for the elections, it would not be surprising that the current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazemi will emerge as the most plausible candidate for the elections. With such meetings, Kazimi aims to gain the support of the countries of the region and to present his conciliatory aspect to the political and social field, as well as to evaluate the influence of France. As a matter of fact, Kazimi described Macron as an “important friend of Iraq” and emphasized that the partnership between Iraq and France in the war against DAESH definitely continues. Macron, who is expected to continue to support Kazimi in the upcoming period, stated that they attach importance to Iraq’s security and stability and that they are ready for cooperation in areas where financial support is needed such as economic infrastructure, energy and water. showed that they aspire to the economic cake to come out. Examples such as the nuclear power plant project, the Baghdad metro project and the reconstruction of the Mosul airport are indicative of this.
macron‘s previous visit to Baghdad on September 2, 2020 had come after Kazimi’s contacts in Washington on August 20, 2020, and the statements made by the United States to reduce the number of troops in Iraq. This visit of Macron, who met with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Kazimi and KRG President Nechirvan Barzani in Baghdad, was evaluated as a search to fill the power vacuum that may arise with the withdrawal of US forces in Iraq. In this sense, when the US withdraws its combat troops from Iraq at the end of the year, the possibility of France’s military fortification in Iraq will come to the fore. It can be thought that France will try to fill this power gap through its consultancy and training cooperation with the Iraqi army and its efforts to activate its NATO role. On the other hand, despite its historical influence, France, which could not create the desired effect in Syria, showed a serious attitude towards the overthrow of the Assad administration with the Arab Spring, but lost its current power to a great extent as the USA withdrew its forces in the country. Macron’s pioneering of a regional initiative and attaching great importance to Iraq can be evaluated as a search for indirect influence on Syria. In addition to the economic impact, the military power that may arise will be easier to reflect on neighboring Syria. Despite this, it should be noted that Iran is uncomfortable with France’s pursuit of activity in Iraq.
Erbil and Mosul visits
macronAfter the summit in Baghdad, in his contacts in Erbil, he met with Iraqi Kurdish authorities, including KRG President Barzani and former KRG President and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Mesut Barzani. Before Macron’s visit to Erbil, Erbil Castle and the route he will take were decorated with French flags and welcome messages, he was greeted with a high-level ceremony at the Erbil Airport, which he arrived late at night, Nechirvan Barzani left the airport in his car, and the visit was given serious consideration by the authorities and the local media, He also drew attention to the close relations between France and the KRG.
While KRG officials thanked Macron for his support in starting negotiations with the Baghdad administration, which they were subjected to sanctions after the 2017 independence referendum, Macron also stated that there is a special friendship between France and KRG and reiterated his support for the fight against DAESH. If the US, whom the Iraqi Kurds accuse of leaving them alone because it did not support the referendum and the Iraqi army and the Hashd al-Shaabi did not prevent the operation that took Kirkuk from the KRG, should the US withdraw from the country, a Westerner with historical relations and who can offer support again in the crisis. country may be considered. While the Iraqi Kurds are concerned about the possibility that the gains they made with the no-fly zone in the north of the country in 1991 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq may be endangered, especially because of DAESH and Hashd al-Shaabi, if the USA withdraws from Iraq after Afghanistan. It can be said that with this visit and statements of Turkey, the Iraqi Kurds are trying to give the message that “even if the USA withdraws, you will not be alone”.
On the other hand, Macron, who stated that schools will be opened with the French consulate here during his visit to Mosul, visited Shiite mosques in Baghdad and Sunni mosques in Mosul, and met separately with Christians and Yazidis, seems to want to improve the perception of France among ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. . When Macron emphasized France’s support for the fight against terrorism during his visit to Mosul, it can be thought that he wanted to give the assurance of France’s “protection” to religious groups in the country who were worried about the resurgence of DAESH in the event that the USA withdrew from Iraq after Afghanistan.
It was also noteworthy that Macron, during his Baghdad contacts before moving to Erbil, said that French soldiers would stay here as long as the Iraqi government needed it, even if the US withdrew from the country. In September 2020, at a time when the USA decided to reduce the number of soldiers in Iraq, Macron visited Baghdad and met with Iraqi and KRG officials, and again after announcing that the USA would withdraw its combat troops at the end of the year, he made a speech to Baghdad and Erbil. His recent visits indicate that France is preparing to increase its influence in Iraq and the KRG after the US withdrawal from Iraq.
. (HAS) is published on the Anadolu Agency website, in summary. ..