French President Emmanuel Macron called for allowing Iraq to choose a path that is not dictated by foreign powers, in his speech today, Tuesday, at the Baghdad Summit for Cooperation and Partnership held in Jordan, which aims to help find solutions to the escalating crises in the Middle East.
“There is a path that is not a form of hegemony or imperialism or a model dictated from outside,” Macron said in his speech before the summit held in a resort on the shores of the Dead Sea.
Macron added, “Iraq today is a scene of influences, incursions, and destabilizing operations linked to the entire region.”
The French presidency had said prior to the summit in Jordan, Iraq’s neighbor, that the aim of the summit is to provide “support for the stability, security and prosperity of Iraq,” and added that it hoped it would benefit “the entire region.”
The summit was launched today in the presence of leaders from Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, France and the European Union.
This Middle Eastern summit is the second edition of the Baghdad summit, which was held in August 2021, which was an initiative of Macron.
Iraq had only recently reached the formation of a fragile consensus government after a year of political stalemate.
On the sidelines of the summit, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced that he met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Tuesday in Amman, and asked him to stop suppressing demonstrations in Iran and end military support to Russia.
This meeting comes at a time when the nuclear negotiations between Tehran and the major powers have reached a dead end.
The meeting was attended by the European Union coordinator for these talks, Enrique Mora, and Ali Bagheri, the chief Iranian negotiator, according to an Iranian diplomatic source.
Borrell said in a tweet on Twitter, “a necessary meeting with the Iranian minister (…) at a time when relations between the European Union and Iran are deteriorating.”
“I stressed the need for an immediate end to Russia’s military support and internal repression in Iran,” he added.
Borrell said the two sides agreed to “keep the channels of communication open and revive” the nuclear deal on the basis of the Vienna talks.
For his part, the Iranian minister confirmed that his country is “ready to resolve any misunderstanding by dealing directly with the Ukrainian side,” according to a statement issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
At the same time, Abdullahian condemned “the approach of Western countries in supporting rioters and imposing illegal sanctions” on his country “under false pretexts to protect human rights,” as he put it.
The Iranian minister also “advised” the Europeans to “adopt a constructive and realistic approach in order to re-launch the nuclear agreement,” according to the same source.
The summit meeting comes at a time when many countries in the region are going through turmoil and instability.
For more than three months, Iran has been working to suppress a wave of popular demonstrations sparked by the death of the Iranian-Kurdish girl, Mahsa Amini, while she was being held by the morality police on September 16.
Iraq is witnessing violations of its northern and northeastern borders by the two neighbors, Turkey and Iran, which are striking targets inside the Kurdistan region of armed Kurdish groups accused of carrying out military attacks inside the territories of the two countries.
As for Syria, it has been a battleground for competing geopolitical interests since 2011, while Lebanon is mired in a quagmire of economic and political problems.
Jordan, which has seen strikes and protests over fuel price hikes over the past few days, has deployed the army along the road leading from Amman airport to the Convention Center on the Dead Sea, about 50 kilometers west of the capital.
Regional analysts say the ambitions of the summit are great, but no one expects miracles. The problems and disputes afflicting the region are complex and difficult to solve in one meeting, even if the intentions are sincere.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian said that the regional summit could be an “opportunity” to move forward negotiations on reviving the nuclear deal, which have been stalled for months.
There are other issues that may be discussed, such as Western accusations of Iran providing Russia with drones and missiles in the war in Ukraine, and the strained Iranian-Saudi relations since the severance of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2016.
Iran accused Saudi Arabia of instigating unrest in the country as the protests flared up there.
But Amir Abdollahian said on Monday that Tehran is “ready to return to normal relations” with Riyadh “at any time the Saudi side is ready.”
On the other hand, the summit conference constitutes a test for the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia al-Sudani, as it is the first high-level international meeting chaired by an Iraqi official who is considered closer to Iran than his predecessor, Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
The French presidency said that Al-Sudani “participates with us in organizing the conference. Therefore, there is a desire for continuity on his part, and this is something worth noting.”
The summit will also discuss international issues such as climate change, global warming, food security, water resources and energy cooperation.