The Wall Street Journal interview opens the door to speculation about the future of the Sudanese government

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’a al-Sudani, made a special statement to a newspaper Wall Street Journalin which he expressed his support for the survival of US forces in Iraq for an indefinite period, according to the newspaper.

“We believe we need foreign forces,” al-Sudani said in the interview, which was published on Wednesday, adding that “the eradication of ISIS needs more time.”

The statement sparked reactions on Iraqi social media, as well as speculation about whether Al-Sudani’s position represented the “coordinating framework”, the party that nominated him to head the government, or that it would open the door to conflict within the Shiite bloc.

Since taking office last October, Al-Sudani has stayed away from criticizing or supporting the presence of US forces in Iraq, a sensitive issue that has long been a matter of controversy among Iraqi political forces.

And the “foreign” forces present in Iraq, most of them are American forces operating under the umbrella of the coalition against ISIS, and their numbers are estimated at about 2,000 soldiers deployed at the “Ain al-Assad” base in the west of the country, down from several thousand who were deployed in several military bases in Iraq during the war on Iraq. Organization.

The US military is hunting down ISIS in Syria

Ain al-Assad base represents the axis of supply and support for the American forces operating in Syria, which are still continuing to fight ISIS and support the Syrian Democratic Forces, which liberated large parts of Syria that were controlled by the extremist organization, including the capital of the “caliphate” that the organization called itself in Raqqa.

the surprise

Iraqi analyst Muhannad Abdul Karim told Al-Hurra that “Al-Sudani’s statements came as a surprise” to many people inside and outside Iraq.

Al-Sudani assumed the position of prime minister with a nomination from the “Coordinating Framework for the Shiite Forces” blocs, which are mostly forces composed of political parties with armed arms loyal to Tehran, as long as they have declared hostility to the American forces present in the country, and some of them are even accused of striking the military bases in which those forces are deployed. .

Before assuming the presidency of the government, Al-Sudani had sharper statements regarding the survival of US forces and their activities in the country.

Abdul Karim added, “Al-Sudani’s statement appears to be an extension of previous statements, which seem to depart from the context pursued by the coordination framework parties.”

Abdel-Karim pointed to Al-Sudani’s statements to the German channel Deutschville, in which he described the Gulf as “Arab”, in contrast to the statements of the Iranian Foreign Minister, who said a few days earlier that Al-Sudani “pledged to fix the mistake in the fictitious name of the Persian Gulf during the 25th Gulf Championship.”

Al-Sudani said during the interview that Iraq is “part of the Arab system,” in a statement that Abdul Karim says is “a clear indication of the desire to draw an independent role for Iraq from Iran.”

Is the timing right?

Richard Wise, a researcher at the American Hudson Institute, says, “Washington will welcome Sudan’s recent approach.”

“Al-Sudani seems aware of the complexity of the situation in Tehran after the recent demonstrations, so he decided to send these friendly messages to Washington,” Wise added.

And he continues, “The partnership with the United States is a logical matter, and it is considered a correct policy, especially since Al-Sudani said that he wants to build relations with both Washington and Tehran.”

But what seems appropriate for Baghdad time may not be suitable for Washington’s calculations, which “are currently focusing more on Asia and Europe than the Middle East.”

Al-Sudani told the Wall Street Journal that Iraq wanted similar relations with Washington to those enjoyed by Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producers in the Gulf.

These countries enjoy long-standing military and economic ties with the United States.

Wise believes that the partnership with Iraq is beneficial to Washington’s efforts in Syria, but the benefit is limited, as “Iraq cannot, for example, keep pace with what Saudi Arabia offers in its partnership with Washington in terms of oil, financial and strategic power and influence in the region.”

Wise notes that “the nuclear agreement with Tehran has reached a dead end, and the rise of a hard-line Israeli government may restore Washington’s interest in the Middle East.”

Signs of a “crisis”

Nevertheless, the analyst and academic Abdel-Zahra Al-Kinani says, “The issue of the exit of the American forces is considered a matter of principle with regard to the coordination framework that formed this government,” adding to “Al-Hurra” that “Al-Sudani’s statements may create a crisis within the framework.”

Al-Hurra contacted the Sudanese Prime Minister’s office to obtain a permit, and also contacted a number of politicians affiliated with the coordination framework, and did not receive a response.

Al-Kinani continues, “The issue of the survival of the American forces emerged from the political and military discussion to the discussion of the response to the killing of Soleimani and Abdul-Mahdi with an American raid, and the fact that the departure of the forces should be the Iraqi response to this targeting.”

Al-Kinani indicated that the Iraqi parliament voted, with the participation of Al-Sudani when he was a deputy, for the exit of US forces from the country, and therefore the government is “obligated” to implement this decision.

Political analyst Ahmed Al-Suhail says, “Al-Sudani is currently facing several crises, and he needs the support of his bloc in Parliament more than ever.”

Accounts, some of them unknown, on social media, began to criticize Al-Sudani since his interview with the Wall Street Journal was published.

Al-Suhail adds to the “Al-Hurra” website that “Sudani’s current approach regarding crises such as the currency rate and the fight against corruption may make the issue of the American forces a window for the framework with which he can replace it.”

But Al-Suhail says that this “is unlikely in the next few period, but it raises doubts about the extent to which Al-Sudani can remain in office throughout the duration of this electoral cycle.”

On January 5, 2020, the Iraqi Parliament, prompted by pro-Iranian forces, voted on a resolution “committing the Iraqi government to end the presence of any foreign forces on Iraqi soil for any reason whatsoever.”

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