Iraq’s President Barham Salih meets Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani throughout the welcome ceremony forward of the Baghdad summit on the Inexperienced Zone in Baghdad, Iraq August 28, 2021. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
August 28, 2021
BAGHDAD (Reuters) -A number of Center Jap leaders and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Baghdad on Saturday at a summit hosted by Iraq, which needs its neighbours to speak to one another as a substitute of settling scores on its territory.
Iraq’s safety has improved in recent times however it’s nonetheless suffering from large energy rivalries and closely armed militia teams.
Competitors for affect within the Center East between Iran on one aspect and the US, Israel and Gulf Arab states on the opposite has made Iraq the scene of assaults in opposition to U.S. forces and assassinations of Iranian and Iraqi paramilitary leaders.
The strained relationships inside the area have additionally led to disruptions to world oil provides with assaults on Saudi Arabian oil installations – blamed on however denied by Tehran.
Organisers of the Baghdad summit mentioned they didn’t anticipate any diplomatic breakthroughs. “Getting these international locations to sit down across the desk – that can be achievement sufficient,” mentioned one Iraqi authorities official.
Heads of state attending included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Macron. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates despatched their heads of presidency, and Turkey its overseas minister.
Macron was as a result of keep an additional day, meet Iraqi leaders and go to French particular forces combating Islamic State insurgents.
Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, longtime rivals for regional dominance, despatched their overseas ministers. The 2 international locations resumed direct talks in Iraq in April this 12 months, however these conferences yielded no breakthroughs.
Iranian officers have mentioned they’re centered extra on the end result of talks in Vienna with Western powers over Iran’s nuclear programme and worldwide sanctions.
“The assembly in Iraq … is simply centered on Iraq and the way the regional international locations can cooperate to assist Iraq,” an Iranian official instructed Reuters forward of the Baghdad summit.
The U.S.-Iran rivalry introduced the Center East to the brink of warfare after the US underneath former U.S. President Donald Trump killed Iran’s navy mastermind Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at Baghdad airport in 2020.
Iran-backed militias have launched more and more subtle drone and rocket assaults in opposition to U.S. forces stationed in Iraq, and likewise fired drones at Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has blamed assaults on its oil installations on Iran – a cost Tehran denies.
The U.S. navy drawdown in Iraq and the brand new nuclear talks with Iran instigated by President Joe Biden’s administration have prompted Riyadh to favour engagement with Iran as a option to comprise tensions with out abandoning its safety considerations.
Forward of the summit, UAE Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum met Qatar’s al-Thani and described him as a “brother and buddy” in an indication of warming ties between the Gulf rivals.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in 2017 severed ties with Qatar over prices it helps terrorism – a broad reference to Islamist teams – which Qatar denied.
Since a deal in January, Riyadh and Cairo have restored diplomatic ties. Abu Dhabi and Manama have but to take action.
Complicating the safety panorama in Iraq, Turkish troops are battling Kurdish separatists within the north. Their presence has drawn rocket fireplace from Iran-aligned militias.
(Reporting by Baghdad newsroom and John Davison in Geneva, Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai and Dubai newsroom, Modifying by Catherine Evans and Ros Russell)