The attack on ISIS in Iraq in the midst of a debate on the levels of American troops


But hovering over the discussion is a third country, Iran, which exerts a powerful influence in Iraq that the United States wants to see reduced.

U.S. wants less economic ties between Iraq and Iran, less Iranian influence on Iraqi security forces, while Iraq wants stronger guarantees that the U.S. won’t provoke of conflict with Iran on Iraqi soil.

The two countries were dangerously close to war after the US air strike that killed Major-General Qassim Suleimani, leader of the Iranian elite Quds Force, at Baghdad Airport in January.

In addition to discussions on the US military presence, the strategic talks, which will take place online and are expected to continue for several months, will also cover energy and the economy.

The Americans want to help develop the Iraqi oil and gas industry, at least in part to help Iraq wean Iranian energy. Iraq, which has the world’s fifth largest proven supply of crude oil, often depends on Iran for gas and electricity.

Iraqi purchases help undermine US sanctions, which aim to exert “maximum pressure” on Iran to force it to accept a new nuclear deal and respond to other American demands.

The eradication of ISIS, a Sunni terrorist group that, at its peak, controlled the size of Britain straddling Iraq and Syria, is a priority for the three countries.


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