Despite the war in Ukraine, the Middle East remains an area that needs to be monitored for its geostrategic, energy and political importance. With the aim of continuing to analyse and monitor developments in the region, as well as to develop measures that favour stability and peace, Jordan has organised a summit with a number of regional and international leaders. The meeting, Baghdad II, follows on the heels of a meeting held in the Iraqi capital in August 2021 hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The summit, held on the shores of the Dead Sea, is chaired by King Abdullah II, Macron and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani. Leaders and representatives from several countries in the region, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, will also take part.
The European Union is also present at the meeting through the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, who reaffirmed his "support for Iraq, its sovereignty, security and stability, as well as its political process, its economic development and its reconstruction efforts in fulfilment of the aspirations of its people".
"This summit has great ambitions, but no one expects miracles," said Riad Kahwaji, director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), quoted by AFP. According to a communiqué from the French presidency, 'Baghdad II' aims to "support Iraq's stability, security and prosperity". A favourable situation in Iraq would benefit "the entire region", it added. For Kahwaji, Paris's role as mediator is key, especially with respect to Iran at a time when nuclear negotiations are stalled.
Last October, the Kurdish Abdul Latif Rashid became Iraq's president after several months of political stalemate. In addition, weeks before Rashid's inauguration, there were tense moments in Baghdad's Green Zone. The new head of state appointed al-Sudani, a Shi'ite politician, as prime minister in an attempt to appease the various warring Shi'ite factions.
Al-Sudani, a former human rights minister who is closer to Iran than his predecessor, Mustafa al-Kadhemi, faces his most important meeting since taking office in October. As Hamzeh Hadad, an academic at the European Council on Foreign Relations, points out to AFP, if the first Iraq summit was intended to allow Kadhemi to show that he could "bring regional leaders, including the Gulf states, together in Baghdad", al-Sudani must now show that "he can maintain these relations and demonstrate that they do not depend on personal ties".
Although Iraq has achieved some political stability after several months of stalemate, it still faces a number of challenges, including the terrorist threat. Just a few days ago, at least eight Iraqi policemen were killed in a Daesh attack in southern Kirkuk province.
One country still mired in political instability is Lebanon, which is also facing a severe economic crisis. Syria, meanwhile, continues to be a battleground for warring foreign powers as its population suffers the harsh consequences of 11 years of war. One of the countries directly intervening on Syrian territory is Turkey, a participant in the summit. In addition, Ankara has also launched attacks against northern Iraq in its fight against Kurdish groups, which it accuses of terrorism.
Iraqi Kurdistan has also been the target of recent attacks by Iran, which is trying to divert attention from the protests that have been sweeping the country since last September. The brutal murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa - or Jina - Amini for wearing the Islamic headscarf incorrectly has sparked a wave of protests that are shaking the foundations of the Iranian regime. Months later and despite the fact that executions have already begun, citizens continue to take to the streets demanding political change.
In addition to security, stability, political and economic developments in the region, 'Baghdad II' will also address issues such as global warming, food security, water resources and energy cooperation.