International Engagement in Iraq Is Tied to Military Presence

Michael Knights

Also available in العربية

February 21, 2019

The U.S.-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State is the strongest alliance Iraq has ever enjoyed, but much of the resultant international attention and support could dissipate if forces are removed.

Iraq’s parliament may soon debate draft legislation concerning the regulation of foreign military forces within its territory. This is an Iraqi affair, fully within Baghdad’s sovereign rights, so the United States and other coalition members must respect its views, whatever they are. What is of paramount importance is that Iraq clearly understands how its words and actions may affect the coalition, and what non-military benefits it may lose alongside the collapse of its military partnerships.


Iraq had never previously enjoyed the level of international attention and support it has received since the Islamic State’s June 2014 breakout, with a wide array of contributions from the following:

  • The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The U.S.-convened coalition is a seventy-nine-member bloc that includes Iraq, seventy-three foreign nations, and five international organizations: the Arab League, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the European Union, Interpol, and NATO. A majority (twelve) of the G-20 states are members: Australia, Britain, Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, and the United States. Geographically speaking, the coalition boasts thirty-eight states from Europe, thirteen from Africa, ten from Asia, and nine Arab-majority countries (including Saudi Arabia and all the other Gulf states).
  • CJTF-OIR. Iraq’s primary military partner in the war against the Islamic State has been the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, a U.S.-led group that includes fifteen other countries: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey.

In short, Iraq has seen the most powerful nations, militaries, and economies in the world mobilize to ensure its survival for nearly five years now. On the back of this effort, with powerful support from the coalition’s G-20 members, Iraq secured a $5.38 billion stand-by arrangement from the IMF. It also saw $30 billion pledged at a February 2018 reconstruction conference organized in Kuwait by coalition members.


This unprecedented focus on Iraq’s survival, stability, and prosperity was not due to some widespread revelation that Iraq is an indispensable partner. Almost none of today’s CJTF partners cared about Iraq at all between 2003 and 2011, when the country faced an equally terrible ordeal. Rather, the steep increase in nonmilitary engagement was driven by the deployment of ground forces from a range of European and NATO states under CJTF-OIR, each of whom still has significant skin in the game precisely because of their boots on the ground.

Indeed, sending servicemen and women abroad is a powerful symbol for industrial powerhouses such as Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. Before CJTF, hardly any of the world’s biggest economies demonstrated significant concern about Iraq. After CJTF was established, the majority of G-20 and European economies firmly committed to the country’s survival. This is not a coincidence.

Since 2014, coalition members have expended a great deal of effort to train twenty-eight Iraqi brigades, launch thousands of airstrikes, and contribute billions of dollars in security assistance, suffering sixty-nine fatalities and many more casualties in the process. If further proof were needed of the link between their military and nonmilitary commitment, however, one need only compare the number of visits to Iraq conducted by presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and defense ministers before and after CJTF deployed. For Western leaders, a visit to Iraq represents a major investment of time, effort, expense, and security planning, so such trips are a powerful sign of commitment to the country’s future. The graph below traces the correlation between international interest in Iraq and the CJTF presence.

The trend is clear: most European and NATO nations did not give Iraq much diplomatic attention until they put their own troops in harm’s way. Conversely, since CJTF was formed, they have been highly committed. In contrast, the nations that did not join CJTF and did not send troops—including eight G-20 members—have consistently treated Iraq as a low priority. In the fifty-four months since the fall of Mosul, non-CJTF G-20 members conducted just three high-level visits to Iraq—compared to an astounding eighty-four by CJTF nations. Iraq’s friends have voted not just with the boots of their soldiers, but with the feet of their leaders.


To ensure this trend continues, the U.S. government needs to rally the CJTF partners and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, asking them to convey three important truths to the Iraqi government:

  • Iraq needs ongoing CJTF support. The country’s military is now much better led than it was when Mosul fell in June 2014, with a depoliticized leadership cadre. Even so, both the military and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) remain woefully unprepared and inadequately manned, trained, and equipped to kill off the Islamic State’s new insurgency in Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Diyala.
  • CJTF will stick together—or leave together. Some anti-American factions will no doubt seek to splinter the United States and Britain away from other CJTF partners, hoping to reduce U.S. involvement in the operation without losing European support. But in reality, there are very good reasons why the coalition is U.S.-led: the vast majority of logistical support, intelligence assets, air assets, and money is provided by Washington, and neither the CJTF mission nor the NATO Training Mission-Iraq would be politically or logistically possible without the United States. That means the entire CJTF structure—not just the U.S. presence—could collapse like a house of cards if a fractious debate over American involvement triggers a withdrawal decision in the Oval Office. The latter move is exactly what some militias are seeking, but the end result could strip Iraq of all international support.
  • Without CJTF, Iraq will see its global relations downgraded. As the above data indicates, Iraq was a diplomatic and economic backwater before CJTF, and it would revert to this neglected status if coalition governments no longer have boots on the ground. The CJTF military partnership is the wellspring of many new—but fragile—diplomatic relationships for Baghdad.

The U.S. government should ensure that every coalition partner—and particularly every CJTF contributor—communicates these points to the Iraqi government clearly and immediately. This gentle form of demarche may help Iraq’s leaders grasp the gravity of the moment, underlining how the future of their international political, economic, and military support is intricately linked to continuation of the CJTF mission.

Michael Knights, a senior fellow with The Washington Institute, has worked in all of Iraq’s provinces since 2003.


Al-Hamouri: Economic agreements between Jordan and Iraq are a great achievement



Amman, Feb. 23 (Petra) – Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Dr. Tareq Al-Hammouri described the recent agreements signed by Jordan and Iraq as “great achievements”.
During his meeting with Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Dr. Saleh al-Jubouri, the Jordanian-Iraqi Business Forum, Al-Hammouri stressed the presence of the two countries’ determination to achieve economic consensus and the great benefits of the two brotherly peoples.
“We refuse to have one winner or one loser of the agreements that have been signed,” Hamouri said at the forum organized by Jordan Chamber of Industry, stressing that what was achieved was a comprehensive view of the interests of both parties.
He added that the exemptions offered were reciprocal. The Iraqi goods entering the Jordanian market are exempt from customs duties, stressing that Jordan is interested in stimulating the economic sectors in Iraq to export their products to the Kingdom and to the integration between the economic sectors between the two countries.
The minister said that the implementation of the agreements may be subject to some technical obstacles, which requires follow-up from the official side of the two countries, stressing that Jordan will not allow violations or violation of what has been agreed upon, and there will be close monitoring.
Al-Hamouri called on economic players in the two countries to apply for visas for truck drivers to speed up economic cooperation between the two countries and maximize what was agreed upon.
The Minister of Industry that there will be a periodic review of what has been agreed to improve and improve and address any gaps that may occur during implementation, pointing to shuttle visits will be between the two countries to provide facilities and address obstacles and stand on what has been achieved.
He pointed out that the governments of the two countries have achieved much in terms of strengthening economic cooperation, stressing that the role of the next stage lies with the private sector to intensify efforts and increase benefits and gains and benefit from the signed agreements.
Al-Jubouri said that the final agreements concluded will serve the two brotherly peoples if applied properly. He called on the Jordanian private sector to establish genuine partnerships with Iraqi businessmen to develop areas of joint trade and industrial cooperation.
He said that the relations between the two brotherly countries are historic, old and rooted for a long time, which requires maintaining communication in the interest of the two peoples, pointing out that the agreements are all in the interests of both parties.
He added that the relations between the two countries will witness the next stage a remarkable development in the industrial and commercial fields, stressing that the Iraqi government supports this trend based on common interests.
He referred to discussing the proposal to transform the industrial city, which was agreed to be established on the borders of the two countries, to a comprehensive economic city that includes commercial and industrial activities, stressing that it would be a good sign for economic, industrial and commercial integration.
Jubouri stressed that the next phase will witness a growth in the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, and will be greater than it is currently, expressing his hope that Jordan and Iraq’s economic relations will be strong in the future.
For his part, the head of Jordan Chamber of Industry Engineer Fathi al-Jaghbir pointed out that the Jordanian private sector seeks to strengthen its relations with its counterparts of Iraqi businessmen to maximize the benefits of the agreements signed between the two countries recently, and increase the volume of trade exchange and meet demand in the markets of various industrial and consumer products.
He stressed the need to continue intensive efforts between the two sides to facilitate the movement of transport and trade and remove any obstacles that prevent the flow of goods from both sides to build on what has been achieved and continue to seek to restore the volume of trade to what it was before, and increase to the level that meets the aspirations.
He also expressed his hope for enhancing communication between employers in both countries by working to organize economic meetings and promotional events to enable businessmen to communicate and make partnerships and exploit the available investment opportunities, especially in the light of bilateral agreements signed between the two countries and cooperation agreements.
Jordan’s exports to Iraq during the 11 months of 2018 amounted to about 594 million dollars compared to 2 million dollars in imports.
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Iraq records the highest water reserves in a quarter of a century



Information / Baghdad ..

The Ministry of Water Resources announced on Saturday that it recorded a percentage of water reservoirs in dams, the highest quarter-century ago across the country, indicating that the high water reservoirs will end the crisis of water scarcity in the province of Basra this year.

“The Ministry of Water Resources recorded the highest percentage of water reserves in a quarter of a century, especially in dams built on the Tigris River,” ministry spokesman Ali Hisham said in a statement.

Hisham added that “the reservoir is excellent and will be increased during the next three months as the melting season of snow in northern Iraq,” noting that increasing the water resource will contribute to the strengthening of the agricultural plan for Iraq.

He added that “the Minister of Water Resources Gamal Al-Adli ordered the stabilization of Basra’s share of past releases throughout the year to end the crisis of water scarcity and do not repeat what happened in the past years,” explaining that “talk about the existence of a notification on some dams because of the increase in water reservoirs is inaccurate being Security situation and under control. “Ending / 25 d

Barham Saleh leaves Baghdad for Sharm el-Sheikh


Editorial date: 2019/2/23 17:24
(Baghdad: Al-Furat News) President Barham Saleh left the capital Baghdad for Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to attend the Arab-European summit.
Saleh will lead the Iraqi delegation to the Arab-European summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on the 24th and 25th of this month. 
The delegation will include foreign ministers Mohammed Ali al-Hakim, Nuri al-Dulaimi, and Trade Minister Mohammed al-Ani. 
The Foreign Minister participated earlier in preparing for this conference during his participation in the Brussels meetings with the Arab and European foreign ministers to issue the final document and the main themes that will be discussed at the upcoming Sharm el-Sheikh summit.
It is expected that the summit statement will include the main joint items that were discussed at the meeting of the foreign ministers in Brussels: the development of the Arab-European economic, commercial and investment relations, the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, Addressing climate problems, migration, strengthening cultural, artistic and tourism relations, and increasing trade exchange. 
The foreign minister will also participate in the talks in Paris with French President MacRoon and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Laudrian on 26 and 27 of this month. He will then leave for Geneva to address Iraq at the high-level session of the Human Rights Council.
The speech will include Iraq’s vision in the field of human rights, its progress in returning displaced people to their cities, empowerment of women, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the humanitarian situation in both Syria and Yemen. 
The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva hosts the Foreign Minister at a high-level session in which he addresses Iraq’s firm and principled positions on the four issues of the Conference, as well as other important topics, such as missiles bearing nuclear warheads, preventing the militarization of outer space, Including nuclear weapons, which contribute to the promotion and achievement of security and stability in this sensitive region of the world.
He will also hold several bilateral meetings with foreign ministers and heads of international organizations based in Geneva, in the framework of strengthening bilateral relations and to reflect Iraq’s policy in the current government.

an international agency to determine the credit ratings of Iraq in 2019

Twilight News

18 minutes ago

The Standard & Poor’s (S & P) credit rating agency said on Saturday it did not expect to raise its credit ratings for Iraq over the next 12 months.

The agency said in a statement that its credit rating for Iraq would remain at “B- / B” with a stable outlook, reflecting that view the agency’s view that risks to the performance of public finances in Iraq will be contained.

It said it did not expect to raise its ratings for Iraq over the next 12 months.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings said last year that it had rated Iraq at B- / B with a stable outlook, with a stable outlook reflecting expectations that the fiscal deficit will be modest over the next few years.