Live Updates: COVID-19 Cases
  • World 30,987,709
    World
    Confirmed: 30,987,709
    Active: 7,439,258
    Recovered: 22,587,048
    Death: 961,403
  • USA 6,967,403
    USA
    Confirmed: 6,967,403
    Active: 2,539,886
    Recovered: 4,223,693
    Death: 203,824
  • India 5,400,619
    India
    Confirmed: 5,400,619
    Active: 1,010,802
    Recovered: 4,303,043
    Death: 86,774
  • Brazil 4,528,347
    Brazil
    Confirmed: 4,528,347
    Active: 571,687
    Recovered: 3,820,095
    Death: 136,565
  • Russia 1,097,251
    Russia
    Confirmed: 1,097,251
    Active: 171,450
    Recovered: 906,462
    Death: 19,339
  • Peru 762,865
    Peru
    Confirmed: 762,865
    Active: 123,659
    Recovered: 607,837
    Death: 31,369
  • Mexico 694,121
    Mexico
    Confirmed: 694,121
    Active: 124,639
    Recovered: 496,224
    Death: 73,258
  • South Africa 659,656
    South Africa
    Confirmed: 659,656
    Active: 54,282
    Recovered: 589,434
    Death: 15,940
  • Spain 659,334
    Spain
    Confirmed: 659,334
    Active: 628,839
    Recovered: ?
    Death: 30,495
  • Chile 444,674
    Chile
    Confirmed: 444,674
    Active: 14,319
    Recovered: 418,101
    Death: 12,254
  • France 442,194
    France
    Confirmed: 442,194
    Active: 319,346
    Recovered: 91,574
    Death: 31,274
  • Iran 419,043
    Iran
    Confirmed: 419,043
    Active: 37,293
    Recovered: 357,632
    Death: 24,118
  • UK 390,358
    UK
    Confirmed: 390,358
    Active: 348,599
    Recovered: ?
    Death: 41,759
  • Bangladesh 347,372
    Bangladesh
    Confirmed: 347,372
    Active: 88,073
    Recovered: 254,386
    Death: 4,913
  • Saudi Arabia 329,271
    Saudi Arabia
    Confirmed: 329,271
    Active: 15,383
    Recovered: 309,430
    Death: 4,458
  • Pakistan 305,671
    Pakistan
    Confirmed: 305,671
    Active: 6,952
    Recovered: 292,303
    Death: 6,416
  • Turkey 301,348
    Turkey
    Confirmed: 301,348
    Active: 27,786
    Recovered: 266,117
    Death: 7,445
  • Italy 296,569
    Italy
    Confirmed: 296,569
    Active: 43,161
    Recovered: 217,716
    Death: 35,692
  • Germany 272,308
    Germany
    Confirmed: 272,308
    Active: 19,342
    Recovered: 243,500
    Death: 9,466
  • Canada 142,774
    Canada
    Confirmed: 142,774
    Active: 9,376
    Recovered: 124,187
    Death: 9,211
  • Netherlands 91,934
    Netherlands
    Confirmed: 91,934
    Active: 85,659
    Recovered: ?
    Death: 6,275
  • China 85,279
    China
    Confirmed: 85,279
    Active: 168
    Recovered: 80,477
    Death: 4,634
  • Australia 26,897
    Australia
    Confirmed: 26,897
    Active: 2,081
    Recovered: 23,967
    Death: 849
  • S. Korea 22,975
    S. Korea
    Confirmed: 22,975
    Active: 2,434
    Recovered: 20,158
    Death: 383
  • New Zealand 1,815
    New Zealand
    Confirmed: 1,815
    Active: 71
    Recovered: 1,719
    Death: 25

US and Iraq launches strategic talks on economy, American troops

Author at TechGenyz Insights
US and Iraq Economy

The United States (US) and Iraq launched much-anticipated strategic talks on the economy on Thursday that are to span the gamut of their bilateral relations, with Washington prioritising the issue of the future of its forces in the country while Baghdad is expected to focus on the nation’s dire economic crisis.

The talks, which began with an initial session in the afternoon with participants tuning in online because of the coronavirus measures, are expected to drag out over several months. They come against the backdrop of soaring tensions following the US airstrike in January that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani just outside the Baghdad airport. Iran’s expanding influence in Iraq is also expected to be an underlining topic in the talks.

Along with the Iranian general, the January airstrike also killed Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Outraged, Iraqi lawmakers spurred by Shiite political factions, passed a non-binding resolution to oust U.S.-led coalition forces from the country following the attack.

However, relations have improved since new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took over the helm of Iraq’s government last month, marking a new chapter in Iraq-U.S. relations following the exit of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, under whose administration ties had cooled. Some parties, notably parliament’s Iran-backed Fatah bloc, continue to call for the withdrawal of US forces.

The first stage will try to set the tone and agenda for the talks and lay on the table some of the urgent issues up for discussion, said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraqi analyst and visiting fellow with the Middle East and North Africa program at the European Council on Foreign Relations. But it may prove to be a long uncertain process punctuated by U.S. presidential elections in November, he said.

Thursday’s session was held virtually due to flight restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus. Iraq has seen a recent flare-up in cases, with authorities having reported over 16,600 infections so far and at least 457 deaths.

The U.S. team was led by David Hale, undersecretary for political affairs, and pressed issues such as the future of the U.S. forces in the country and security concerns spawning from armed militias in Iraq, early elections and violence against protesters.

Iraqi and US officials said they support a scheduled withdrawal of forces from Iraq, but questions remain over time-frames and the scope of the threat posed by the Islamic State group. Officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The talks will focus on the need for Iraq and America to fight IS, in light of that we will make a decision, al-Kadhimi told reporters on Wednesday.

The Iraq team, lead by Abdul Karim Hashim, the deputy minister for foreign affairs, outlined Iraq’s economic concerns at a time when oil prices have reached historic lows, leaving the crude-dependent state struggling to pay public wages.

Probably the most important thing for the vast majority of Iraqis is how can the U.S. can assist Iraq in this very difficult period, said Jiyad. And on the American side, whether they see value in supporting Iraq apart from security.

In a sign of support for al-Kadhimi’s administration, hours after he was sworn in, the U.S. approved a 120-day sanctions waiver enabling the country to continue importing Iranian gas and electricity to meet its power needs. Iraq’s progress in becoming more gas independent is also on the agenda as future waivers depend on Baghdad reducing its reliance on Tehran for energy needs.

Iraqi officials have said plans are being drawn up to capture associated gas currently being flared in oil fields in Iraq’s south. However, Baghdad last week signed a two-year contract with Iran to continue importing Iranian electricity.

On the American side as well, I think, particularly with the Trump administration, a lot of this is about Iran, whether they admit it or they don’t admit it,” said Renad Mansour, senior research fellow at Chatham House. In particular, he said, the U.S. concern has been whether Iraq can prosper as a country without being drawn into Iranian influence.

Late Wednesday, a Katyusha rocket fell just a few hundred meters (yards) from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, the latest of several incidents targeting the American presence in Iraq in recent months. The U.S. has repeatedly blamed Iran-backed Iraqi militias for the attacks.

Tackling the issue of militia groups operating outside of the state is complicated, said one Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. We have communicated that to the Americans.

Career

Subscribe