Expert: U.S. should remember about Iraq, not to cede it to Russia

Эксперт: США пора вспомнить про Ирак, чтобы не уступить его России

The policy of the American leader Donald trump in the Middle East undermines the credibility of the US in the region, which now swept “the wave of authoritarianism,” he writes in his article for The American Interest, the political scientist Anna Barshcheuski. According to experts, is particularly evident in Iraq, whose government is increasingly moving closer to Russia due to both “soft” and “hard” power.

The decision of the President of the United States Donald trump about the withdrawal of troops from the northwestern regions of Syria in which the Kurdish forces, who fought side by side with the Americans against ISIS*, were “abandoned to their fate” in the background of the invasion of Turkey, showed “all enemies and allies of America, the only superpower in the world — is deeply unreliable and behaves to the unpredictable irresponsibility”, writes in his article for The American Interest, a senior researcher of the analytical center “the Washington Institute of foreign policy,” Anna Barshcheuski. What’s worse, the expert emphasizes, such steps of administration trump came into conflict with its own policy considerations listed in the Strategy for national security in 2017: according to this document, Washington was supposed to compete with the great powers, but his behavior in Syria can only be described as “retreat to Russia and Iran.”Meanwhile, continues the Barshcheuski, the noise of the “General indignation” politics trump lost a few specific consequences of its decisions. According to the analyst, to consider these implications, and the geopolitical situation in the region, referring to the example of Iraq — and how it builds its relations with Russia.As the author writes, the geopolitical strategy of Moscow in Iraq includes components like “soft and hard power”, and they have for some time had on the country is quite a serious impact. The Kremlin concludes agreements and gradually improving its relations in the Iraqi energy sector, defense infrastructure, the media sector and the government, as repeatedly announced by the diplomats on both sides, said the Barshcheuski. According to media reports, the total volume of Russian investments in the energy sector of Iraq exceeded $10 billion; in addition, in February 2008, Moscow wrote off to Baghdad by the Soviet debts in the amount of $12.9 billion in exchange for a contract on the supply of oil, worth $4 billion, including limited access to the West Qurna — 2, one of the world’s largest deposits of oil.Russian “LUKOIL” and “Gazprom” appeared in the energy market of Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012 and was subsequently able to conclude a number of agreements, according to the material. Three years later, when American energy companies began reducing their presence in the country because of fears for their safety, the regional authorities summoned other Russian companies, the author notes.In October 2013, Moscow again began to supply Iraq with weapons, restoring the previously signed with the Baghdad contract for $4.2 billion, which the Iraqi authorities had released a year earlier because of alleged corruption, says the Barshcheuski. At the beginning of 2014, Washington delayed delivery of the purchased Iraq before Baghdad F-16 fighters and Apache helicopters because of doubts about the deal in the Congress and bureaucracy — and then the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi asked for help from Vladimir Putin, who promptly put the Iraqi side of the 12 fighters. Although the Iraqis by mid-2015 and begun to receive their F-16, they need to at the beginning of 2014 — how needed they are then in air strikes against ISIS, which America has carried out only by August; the Iraqis still remember how quickly they received Russian weapons at that difficult time when they needed it most. This step of Moscow helped to create Putin, “the image of a leader who helped Iraq to fight against ISIS,” explains the author.In October 2015, just a few days after Moscow announced its intervention in the Syrian crisis in Baghdad has opened a new information centre for intelligence sharing between the Russian, Iranian and Syrian intelligence and Hizbollah, like an expert. Despite the fact that its stated task of detection of objects of IG for the subsequent air strikes, the centre has not fulfilled, he became “a legal basis for Moscow to keep in Iraq the presence of its intelligence services,” says the Barshcheuski.Despite the fact that Moscow is not a major player in Iraq, she was able to create a reputation of strength, “which, unlike the US, does not give unrealistic promises, and if something promises that necessarily performs” notes the analyst. “RT Arabic helps to shape the Kremlin’s positive image, and the Iraqis believe is the media a reliable source of information, she writes. Among other things, RT Arabic claims that Russia has been consistently fighting with ISIS”. In addition, as emphasized by the Barshcheuski, Russia is positioning itself in Iraq as a country that protects human rights — she repatriated children of Russian citizens who joined the ranks of ISIS in Iraq and Syria provides Iraqis a small number of grants for getting higher education in Russia and making steps towards expansion of cooperation with Baghdad in the field of education. Although the Iraqi citizens in General still prefer to study in the West, they are often hindered by high cost of education and bureaucratic barriers, according to the material.In Iraq, Moscow faces some competition from Iran, but Russia often prefers to cooperate with Iran — they share anti-American sentiment and desire to resist the US influence in the middle East, says the author. Its influence in Iraq trying to build, and China’s growing energy appetites which all the more make him stare at the middle East, however, though the turnover of Baghdad to Beijing is much higher than that with Russia — $30 billion against $1.7 billion in the defense and energy plan, Iraq still prefer the Russians, not the Chinese, recognizes the Barshcheuski.As the analyst writes, many Americans at the moment are “tired of Iraq”, and most of them do not understand that, despite this country’s problems, some of the “conquered by the blood and sweat of freedoms” is still entrenched among Iraqis after the fall of the “brutal dictator” Saddam Hussein: so, the Iraqis are no longer afraid to ask their authorities awkward questions in public forums what the middle East will not find almost anywhere else — with the possible exception of Israel and Tunisia. In addition, polls show that in recent years in Iraq eroding sectarian feud, and more and more people define themselves as Iraqis, not as representatives of their ethno-religious community, the author notes. Thought the Barshcheuski, the actions of Mr. trump caused enormous damage to the authority of the United States in the middle East, but the US still should actively develop relations with Iraq — after all, if Washington continues to refuse to participate in the life of this country, he will not be able to counter the influence of Iran and Russia, and Iraq will strike swept the region “the wave of authoritarianism.”

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