By Albert B Wolf, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

To Stop a U.S.-Iran War, Finlandize Iraq

A the coronavirus pandemic rages around the world and Americans remain divided on reopening the economy, lawmakers in the United States seem united on one issue: an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives agrees that the conventional arms embargo on Iran, due to expire in October, should be renewed.

While it is indisputable that Iran supports terrorism and should have its access to conventional weapons curtailed, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s so-called maximum-pressure campaign carries a bigger danger:

The United States could get caught in another war of choice in the Middle East.

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By Bryant Harris for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Intel: US signals support for Iraq’s latest prime minister-designate

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo signaled support for Iraq’s newest prime minister-designate, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, in a statement on Monday.

The United States looks forward to the formation of a new Iraqi government capable of confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, ameliorating the country’s current economic distress and bringing arms under state control,” Pompeo said in a statement.

We welcome that [Shiite], Sunni and Kurdish political leaders seem to have arrived at a consensus on government formation and hope the new government puts Iraq’s interests first and meets the needs of the Iraqi people.

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By Bryant Harris for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Soleimani’s successor visits Iraq, then Trump tweets warning to Iran

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to warn Iran against further attacks on US forces in Iraq – the same day that Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that the new head of the Quds Force had recently visited Baghdad.

Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq,” Trump tweeted. “If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did not directly deny an Iranian plot in Iraq in his tweeted rebuttal.

Instead he characterized Iranian proxies as “friends” and obliquely referenced Trump’s January strike on former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

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By Robbie Gramer, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Fears Mount as Trump Administration Guts USAID’s Iraq Presence

The United States’ top aid agency is dismantling its presence in Iraq, leaving a skeleton crew ill-equipped to oversee over $1 billion in aid programs aimed in part at staving off the return of terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, officials and lawmakers say.

An internal U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) document obtained by Foreign Policy confirms that major cuts in staffing were made late last year and highlights the stark difference between the agency’s footprint in Iraq and other countries that receive foreign aid funding: In fiscal 2019, Egypt received roughly one-fifth the amount of U.S. foreign aid as Iraq, but it has more than seven times the number of staff to oversee it.

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From Breaking Defense.

Contrary to declarations made by President Donald Trump, the U.S is not withdrawing forces from Iraq, but is building at least three semi-permanent new bases very close to the Iranian border in northern Iraq, Israeli sources tell Breaking Defense.

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(Picture: Balad Air Base)

By John Lee.

The CEO of Germany’s Siemens has said that US President Donald Trump would support his company’s role in reconstruction projects in countries like Iraq.

Joe Kaeser (pictured) made the comment to CNBC at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Following a hotly-contested competition in 2018, it was agreed that Siemens and rival GE would share the work to upgrade Iraq’s electricity system, with GE supplying 14 gigawatts (GW), and Siemens 11 GW.

Siemens employs around 60,000 workers in the US.

(Source: CNBC)

As a part of his meetings with a number of leaders and heads of State, President Salih held in-depth talks with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

The President stressed the need to intensify international efforts to establish international and regional security and stability, noting that their consolidation and strengthening is the only way to ensure comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.

His Excellency added that Iraq is eager to establish balanced relationships with all friends and allies to strengthen its sovereignty, respect its independent decision, achieve the interests of Iraqis, continue the economic development and reconstruction. In addition to Iraq must not be turned into a battleground to settle scores, he stated.

The US President, in turn, reiterated his country’s support for Iraq, showed his desire to have a closer relation, expand the scope of cooperation and raise the trade volume between Iraq and US to serve both peoples. Iraq’s pivotal role in the region, he appreciated.

Discussions covered the presence of foreign forces, the reduction in troops strength in the country as well as the importance of respecting Iraqis people’s demands in maintaining national sovereignty and ensuring security and stability.

(Source: Office of the Iraqi President)

By Bryant Harris for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Inhofe endorses Iraq sanctions

The Donald Trump administration is doubling down on its Iraq pressure campaign, threatening to impose devastating sanctions on the fragile country should Baghdad move forward with its threats to expel US forces.

And the policy has buy-in from key Republican lawmakers, who are in no hurry to push back against the president’s sanctions threats.

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By Bryant Harris for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Inhofe endorses Iraq sanctions

The Donald Trump administration is doubling down on its Iraq pressure campaign, threatening to impose devastating sanctions on the fragile country should Baghdad move forward with its threats to expel US forces.

And the policy has buy-in from key Republican lawmakers, who are in no hurry to push back against the president’s sanctions threats.

Click here to read the full article.

By John Lee.

The Trump administration has reportedly threatened to block Iraq’s access to its funds in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if Iraq expels US troops from the country.

The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed Iraqi officials as saying that the US State Department warning came after the Iraqi parliament voted in favour of a resolution demanding the removal of American forces from Iraq.

Iraq uses the account to deposit its oil sale revenues and pay government salaries and contracts.

According to the most recent financial statement from the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), the Federal Reserve held about $3 billion in overnight deposits at the end of 2018.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)