It was the first time that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazemi and U.S. President Donald Trump had met face-to-face. This meeting was the last one after several days of meetings between the American and Iraqi delegations, and it comes at a time of a new escalation of tension between Washington and Teheran, after the US announced that it will seek to re-impose all pending US sanctions on Iran at the United Nations.
The withdrawal of the American troops in Iraqi territory, the possible oil agreements and the coordination in security matters with the threat of Iran and Daesh, have been the topics discussed in this diplomatic mission, in the middle of the celebration of the Democratic Convention and the arrest of Donald Trump's most famous former advisor, Steve Bannon.
"We'll be leaving soon. We have very few soldiers in Iraq, but we are there to help," the U.S. president said. The U.S. plan is to withdraw its forces from Iraq within three years, but, in Trump's words, "we will be there to help the Iraqi people," and to continue to support the al-Kazemi government and complete its reform approach in fighting corruption and eliminating armed factions, as well as deterring Iranian influence in Iraq.
According to the Iraqi news agency INA, Baghdad and Washington emphasized "the need for cooperation and security coordination between the Iraqi Armed Forces and the forces of the international coalition to defeat the terrorist organization Daesh, with a focus on training, equipping and supporting the Iraqi forces".
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is working with Iraqi officials to reduce the number of U.S. forces in Iraq "to the lowest level as quickly as possible. The U.S. has about 5,000 troops in Iraq and the coalition has 2,500 more.
The U.S. Army withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving a small contingent to take over U.S. Embassy duties. However, additional forces were deployed to the country a few years later. The main mission of the U.S. forces deployed in Iraq since 2014 has been to defeat Daesh. Officials of the U.S.-led coalition have said that Iraqi forces can defeat the terrorists on their own. Earlier this year, the Iraqi Parliament voted to approve the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq.
Al-Kazemi took office in April, defying the influence of armed groups allied with Iran and Iraq, to become the third prime minister over a 10-week period, followed by months of street protests.
With the departure of American troops from the Asian country, U.S. energy companies are expanding their investments in an oil-rich country. Five companies, such as Chevron, have signed agreements with the Iraqi government, whose main objective is to strengthen Iraq's independence from Iran in the energy sector.
The Iraqi Prime Minister described as "unacceptable" the Turkish intervention in the north of Iraq, to attack Kurdish militias, and Al-Kazemi pointed out that the Iraqi Constitution expressly prohibits the use of its territories to attack any neighbouring country. "Turkish intervention is unacceptable, and we will not allow it, and we will not allow our lands to be used to threaten any of our neighbours.
The attack by Turkey a few weeks ago, in which a Turkish drone killed two Iraqi commanders and their driver in the north of the country, has increased tensions between the two countries. This attack took place in Ankara's struggle against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is recognized as terrorist by much of the international community, but considered "a dangerous violation of Iraq's sovereignty" for Baghdad.