Macron says foreign interference among Iraq’s main challenges | Iraq News

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday pledged to support Iraq and said the main challenges the country faces are fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh ) and foreign interference in its affairs.

“We are here for and we will continue to support Iraq,” Macron said at a press conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih.

Macron is the first head of state to visit the Iraqi capital since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the former Iraqi intelligence chief, formed a new government in May. become the third head of government in a chaotic 10-week spell that followed months of deadly protests in a country exhausted by decades of sanctions, war, corruption and economic challenges.

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“Any foreign intervention can undermine your efforts as a government,” Macron said.

Iraqi officials should continue to share the vision of restoring “Iraq’s sovereignty,” he said, adding that it was “a very important undertaking not only for Iraq, but also for the whole region ”.

“I would like to reiterate that France fully supports the State and the Iraqi institutions”.

Macron had previously said he was going to Baghdad “to launch an initiative alongside the United Nations to support a process of sovereignty”.

The French leader is expected to meet al-Kadhimi on his day-long trip, which comes amid a severe economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic that have put enormous strain on the Iraqi economy and politics. He should also meet Nechirvan Barzani, president of the northern Kurdish semi-autonomous region.

Al-Kadhimi was chosen by parliament in May to lead a government that would guide the country to early elections and called for an election to be held in June 2021. His predecessor Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned under pressure from protests against corruption and foreign interference in December last year.

The snap elections are one of the main demands of anti-government protesters who staged months of mass protests last year and were killed in the hundreds by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to armed groups. supported by Iran.

American-Iranian tensions

After a US-led invasion toppled former President Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq was ravaged by waves of sectarian conflict that resulted in ISIL’s capture of swathes of the country there. is six years old.

At the same time, the country has been caught for years between its two main allies, Iran and the United States, an increasingly tortured balance since Washington’s withdrawal in 2018 from a multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.

France is one of the European nations which remain the main supporters of the 2015 agreement.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, who reports from Baghdad, said Macron’s visit was an “important step,” especially as the country is caught between two allies who are at odds with each other.

Al-Kadhimi, who is backed by the United States, took office on May 7, when Baghdad’s relations with Washington were precarious. LLike previous Iraqi leaders, he must walk a tightrope in the midst of the US-Iran rivalry.

The January assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by the United States in Baghdad prompted Shiite lawmakers to call on US forces to leave Iraq.

Al-Kadhimi visited Washington last month, where he met with President Donald Trump. He said his administration was committed to introducing security reforms as rogue militias mounted near-daily attacks on his seat of government.

Other crises for al-Kadhimi include cutting state coffers in the crude oil-dependent country following a sharp drop in prices, adding to the woes of an already struggling economy amid the pandemic .

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