February 20, 2024

Hours earlier than Iraq filed a criticism towards Iran to the Safety Council, the Iraqi Overseas Minister Fouad Hussein condemned, in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Iran’s assault on Irbil, contemplating the escalation “an try by Iran to export its inside issues.” 

Hussein, who was talking on the sidelines of the World Financial Discussion board held in Davos, stated that “his nation has taken political and diplomatic measures to reply to the Iranian bombardment that killed 4 civilians in Irbil on Monday night,” denying Tehran’s claims in regards to the presence of the Israeli Mossad in Iraq. 

He additionally linked the assault on the Iraqi Kurdistan area to the rising tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv because of the warfare in Gaza, contemplating that “there are probably guidelines of engagement between the Iranians and the Israelis.” 

Concerning Baghdad’s curiosity within the withdrawal of US forces stationed in Iraqi army bases, Hussein stated that his authorities seeks to achieve a “negotiation course of” with Washington, highlighting that “the People are prepared to take a seat on the negotiation desk however beneath regular circumstances.” 

The previous few weeks witnessed an escalation towards US pursuits in Iraq. Washington responded by concentrating on the headquarters of Iraqi factions with shut ties to Iran.  

As for the Iraqi-Saudi relations, Hussein stated that they’re glorious, expressing his nation’s aspiration “to strengthen financial cooperation and push Saudi investments in the direction of Iraq.” 

Beneath is the complete script of the dialogue: 

Enable me to begin with the Revolutionary Guard’s assault that focused the Iraqi Kurdistan area on Monday night, together with the official Iraqi condemnation that adopted and the summoning of the Chargé d’Affaires of the Iranian Embassy. What further measures is Iraq contemplating in response to this escalation? 

The measures that Iraq is taking are diplomatic, political and authorized. In relation to diplomatic measures, now we have summoned the second-highest-ranking diplomat on the embassy (because the Iranian ambassador is in Tehran) and handed him a observe of protest concerning the Iranian aggression towards Iraq’s territory in Irbil and the killing of Iraqi residents. 

We’ve recalled the Iraqi ambassador from Tehran to Baghdad. Based mostly on the directives of the prime minister, the federal and regional governments have fashioned an investigation committee.

The top of the committee, who’s the Iraqi nationwide safety adviser, will submit his report on Wednesday to the prime minister. In keeping with what I’ve heard from the nationwide safety adviser, the proprietor of the home that was bombed, who’s a widely known Kurdish-Iraqi businessman, was killed alongside along with his daughter, whereas his different daughter and spouse had been injured. His visitor, an Iraqi from Mosul, was killed as nicely. One Filipina employee, who was inside the home on the time of the assault, was additionally killed, whereas 3 different Filipina staff had been injured and are receiving the mandatory remedy on the hospital. As for the home, it was utterly destroyed. 

Along with the measures I’ve talked about, now we have filed a criticism to the United Nations Safety Council. 

Iran says that it focused an Israeli Mossad headquarters in Irbil. Does the Israeli intelligence company actually have a presence in Iraq? 

The Iranians blaming others is unusual. They’re witnessing issues, comparable to assassinations and terrorist assaults, inside their nation because of the failure of the related our bodies there, however they attempt to export these issues overseas. 

A couple of yr in the past, (Iran) bombed a residential home belonging to a different Kurdish-Iraqi businessman with 12 rockets. An Iraqi governmental delegation went to Tehran again then with an investigation committee to show that the home that was focused was certainly a standard home, the place the household of the businessman lived. 

(The Iranians) claimed that the home was a Mossad headquarters, however they had been totally conscious that their declare was false. They had been selling this false media marketing campaign internally (to handle) an inside marketing campaign that began because of a terrorist assault that came about close to Kermanshah. 

They, in truth, can’t confront Israel. So, they assault Irbil. There isn’t any fact (to Iran’s claims when it comes to the presence of a Mossad headquarters). That is an inside Iranian situation and they’re exporting it overseas. They can not confront Israel regardless that they’re current in Syria and on the Israeli borders. 

In the event that they needed to assault Israel, they might have accomplished that. They’re current in Syria and south Lebanon. They’ve, as they are saying, rockets that may attain Israel from their territories. 

Why do they assault Irbil? Irbil is a part of Iraq and Iraq is a neighboring and pleasant nation to Iran. They share important historic, geographical, spiritual, cultural and financial relations. 

We used to defend Iran. We’re those who repaired the unhealthy relations between Iran and the Arab international locations and, typically, between Iran and the European international locations and the US. 

Iran is attacking an allied authorities. It is a strategic mistake and I feel that whoever carried out this operation in Tehran will understand, after a while, that he made a strategic mistake when coping with Iraq. 

Did the Israeli warfare towards Gaza flip Iraq right into a discipline the place Iran and the US trade messages? Is that this what led the Iraqi authorities to announce its curiosity within the withdrawal of US forces? 

When relations turn out to be tense between Iran and one other nation, the stress is in truth between Iran and Washington. These negatively tense relations mirror on Iraq. So, there could be a battle, however on the Iraqi scene. 

Right this moment, the relations between Israel and Iran are tense and harmful. Nonetheless, the Iranians don’t take the battle to Israel, as they’ve their pursuits. Subsequently, for the sake of inside consumption, they transferred the battle to the Iraqi Kurdistan area or the Iraqi scene, which is a giant mistake. 

What I get from that is that there are agreed-upon guidelines of engagement between the Israelis and Iranians. I feel that the assault on Irbil, within the thoughts of some individuals in Tehran, was in response to what occurred in Kerman, which means the terrorist assault for which ISIS Khorasan claimed accountability. 

If this group, which has mental, ideological and safety conflicts with Iran, was liable for the terrorist assault that martyred many individuals in Kerman, why is Iran exporting this drawback to the Iraqi Kurdistan area? Or if this operation focused the Israelis, as claimed by Iran, the Israelis are of their nation. 

The Iranians declare that they’re combating the Israelis. Subsequently, I really feel that there are guidelines of engagement in place between them. Nonetheless, for the sake of inside consumption, the Iranians bombed the militarily weak hyperlink, which is weak now as a result of Iraq is a buddy of Iran. They hit their buddy and don’t confront their enemy. 

Did you set a timeline for the US forces’ withdrawal from Iraq? 

The Iraqi authorities confirms that this situation will likely be solved by means of negotiations, not by power. That is the primary concept. We’d like negotiations that may lead us to attain this goal with the settlement of each events. We’re presently nonetheless discussing the initiation of those negotiations with the US. 

As for the violence and counter-violence (that Iraq has witnessed just lately), the People say that they won’t sit on the negotiation desk by power. They’re prepared to barter the US presence on Iraqi territories however beneath regular circumstances. 

We should always resort to historical past right here. The People got here to Iraq on the invitation of the Iraqi authorities. Subsequently, we are able to very simply ask them to depart. Nonetheless, this have to be accomplished based mostly on a joint settlement. 

We’d like a negotiation course of. We’re presently in talks with the US to agree on the initiation of the stated course of after which announce it. We hope to achieve an settlement swiftly. 

Some Kurdish and Sunni actors don’t appear to assist a US withdrawal proper now. Is there consensus amongst Iraqi parts about this step? 

Some points are nationwide points, and it is a actuality. The Iraqi authorities is a coalition authorities. We’ve a political management represented by the State Administration Coalition, which fashioned this authorities and contains representatives of all of the parts by means of their events. 

Subsequently, after we begin negotiations, we should always sort out their content material through the political management assembly. After we attain a consensus in regards to the outcomes, it will be a nationwide choice by means of authorized frameworks, which means by means of the approval of the Iraqi authorities.  

We’d like approval, however now we have a political framework to debate these points. 

The raison d’être of US troops in Iraq was to help Iraqi forces in combating terrorism. Are Iraqi forces now capable of confront the renewed terrorist menace? 

There’s an equation in place. It’s true that US troops in Iraq and the Worldwide Coalition Forces had been established to fight Daesh. They got here to Iraq upon the federal government’s approval again then and with out it, they wouldn’t have been capable of enter Iraq. Due to the efforts of the Iraqi military, the Standard Mobilization Forces and the Peshmerga Forces, and the assist of the coalition forces in addition to different international locations, together with Iran, the individuals of Iraq had been capable of defeat Daesh and break what is known as “the Daesh State.” 

Daesh ended and changed into a terrorist gang. A warfare towards gangs doesn’t contain armies. It’s an intelligence and knowledge warfare. 

We’re presently those initiating the assault towards these gangs right here and there, based mostly on the army idea. We don’t want further forces, as a result of the forces on the Iraqi scene, together with the military, the Standard Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga or the safety forces normally, are ample. 

As a state, we have to be totally sovereign when it comes to safety. As for the pleasant states, they’ll have a presence – if wanted – on Iraqi territory for coaching and recommendation functions, and with the approval of the Iraqi authorities. 

We don’t want fight troops. Nonetheless, with a purpose to attain the stage of those forces’ departure from Iraqi territory, we’d like negotiations. That’s the distinction between the federal government’s proposal and the proposals made by a few of the different teams. We consider in dialogue and negotiations, as, by means of them, we are able to attain an settlement for the withdrawal of those forces.  

What number of US troops are in Iraq at this time? 

I feel there are 2,500 US troops, no more.  

Between 2003 and 2011, the variety of US troops deployed in Iraq at sure phases reached 160,000 US troopers. Right this moment, we’re speaking a couple of small quantity. 

Furthermore, if we have a look at the People in Iraqi camps – there are not any US camps – we discover that their common age isn’t that of fight troopers. They’re consultants, advisers or trainers. 

There are a number of funding initiatives between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and commerce between the 2 international locations has risen to about $1 billion yearly. How do you consider the relations between Riyadh and Baghdad at this time? 

Political relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at this time are glorious. By the best way, we performed a serious function in restoring the connection between Saudi Arabia and Iran. We’re pleased with that, as Iran is a neighboring nation with which we share our borders. Each time the connection between the Arab States surrounding Iraq and Iran is nice, it’s in Iraq’s curiosity. 

Tensions within the area have an effect on Iraq negatively, and good relations have an effect on Iraq positively. Iraq’s safety is determined by the area’s safety. 

The connection between Saudi Arabia and Iraq is great. We began discussing methods to cooperate within the fields of commerce and economic system. Moreover, we at all times cooperate with Saudi Arabia to coordinate positions on oil points inside the framework of OPEC, in addition to on the worldwide stage and inside the League of Arab States. 

We look ahead to growing the relations between each international locations, establishing sturdy financial relations, and to Saudi corporations investing in Iraq, since we’d like overseas investments to construct the Iraqi economic system. 

There may be common communication between Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in addition to between the Saudi Overseas Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and I. We are going to each meet right here in Davos in just a few days. 

The Iraqi Prime Minister visited Damascus final July. It was the highest-level Arab go to after Damascus returned to the League of Arab States. Inform us in regards to the Iraqi-Syrian relations at this time. 

The Syrian-Iraqi relations haven’t been interrupted, as have relations between many Arab States and Syria. 

Throughout earlier conferences of the League of Arab States, we had been eager on proposing Syria’s return. Iraq was additionally among the many international locations that referred to as for Syria’s return to worldwide boards, so the Syrian authorities could possibly be an actor within the negotiations and obtain a state of stability on its territories. 

Furthermore, destabilizing Syria impacts Iraq negatively. 

We should always not overlook that “Daesh” established its so-called “Daesh State” on Iraqi and Syrian territories, and at a sure level, managed round 50 p.c of the Syrian territories and one-third of the Iraqi territories. 

Stability in Syria positively displays on the safety state of affairs in Iraq. There are a number of terrorist organizations in Syria, whereas within the Al-Hol camp and Syrian prisons close to the Iraqi border, there are millions of Daesh militants. If these individuals had been launched or had been capable of escape, a lot of them would positively attempt to cross the border into Iraq and undermine Iraq’s safety and stability. 

From this attitude and the humanitarian perspective, we name for the soundness of Syria. We all know that the Syrian disaster is a neighborhood, nationwide, regional and worldwide disaster that entails totally different actors. There aren’t solely two groups however a number of groups in the identical enviornment. Fixing this disaster requires cooperation on the Arab, regional and international ranges. 

As for the humanitarian facet of issues, there are round eight million Syrians who’re both displaced or refugees, whereas Syria’s economic system has been utterly destroyed. Syrians are dealing with a tragedy because of inflation, the “deteriorating” financial state of affairs, the “shortage” of electrical energy and the “absence” of companies. We stand in solidarity with the Syrian individuals, hoping they may overcome this tragedy. Subsequently, we “attempt” to work together with others with a purpose to create a state of stability in Syria. 

 

• This was initially revealed in Asharq Al-Awsat