By Ranj Alaadin, for Brookings Institution. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq has a new prime minister. What next?

After five months and two failed attempts, Iraq has a new prime minister.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s appointment offers the country the prospect of some respite after months of political paralysis and mass social unrest since October 2019.

The unrest has rocked the political class, and has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the dramatic decline in oil prices, and tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

The full report can be read here.

By John Lee.

On May 21, the Government of Iraq extended the suspension on scheduled flights to and from Iraq until 8:00 p.m. on May 31.

Qatar Airways is offering a special flight from Baghdad on May 26.  This flight is not organized by the Embassy.

(Source: U.S. Embassy Baghdad)

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.

Click here to read the full story (subscription required).

By Sajad Jiyad, for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News

Time for a reset: Iraq’s new prime minister and the US-Iran rivalry

Iraq needs to reset its relations with both Tehran and Washington in a way that protects Iraqi sovereignty and allows the central government to reassert control over the security apparatus.

Read the full article here.

By John Lee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pictured) has welcomed the formation of a new government in Iraq following months of instability.

In a phone call with the new Prime Minister, Mustafa Kadhemi, he said that the US would not enforce sanctions on Iraq buying electricity from Iran for 120 days “as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success”.

The full statement via Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Secretary Pompeo welcomed Prime Minister Kadhimi’s new government, which was confirmed by the Council of Representatives.

“They discussed the urgent hard work ahead for the Iraqi government, implementing reforms, addressing COVID-19, and fighting corruption. In support of the new government the United States will move forward with a 120-day electricity waiver as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success.

“The Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed the upcoming U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue and how they look forward to working together to provide the Iraqi people the prosperity and security they deserve.

(Source: US State Dept)

By John Lee.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged Iraqi leaders to put aside the country’s sectarian quota system to help form of a new government.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, he said:

In Iraq, we’re watching closely as Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Kadhami enters the third week of trying to form his government.

“The Iraqi people need and deserve a government that frees the country from external intimidation, puts the prosperity of the Iraqi people first, and tackles the major challenges that continue to face Iraq. 

“Iraqi leaders must put aside the sectarian quota system and make compromises that lead to government formation for the good of the Iraqi people, and for the partnership between the United States and Iraq.

“The Iraqi government, too, must heed the call from many elements of Iraqi society to bring all armed groups under state control, and we welcome steps that have been taken in the past days in that direction.

(Source: US State Dept)

By John Lee.

Iraq is reportedly seeking financial assistance from the United States to help it deal with the coronavirus pandemic and collapsing oil revenues.

Bloomberg quotes Health Minister-designate Jaafar Allawi as saying:

“We have been promised by the United States government as part of this strategy between Iraq and United States to help us financially … I think there is a team negotiating now, or in the process of negotiation, to get Iraq some support, financial support, from America.”

More here.

(Source: Bloomberg)

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Back to the future on US-Iraq strategic dialogue

It looks like Baghdad and Washington will try once again to settle their differences over the presence of US troops in Iraq.

Both sides have agreed to resume talks in June to reframe their relationship.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

Washington has renewed a waiver for Iraq to continue importing Iranian electricity, a US State Department official said.

The Secretary granted this brief extension of the waiver to allow time for the formation of a credible government,” the official said, referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and added that the waiver would expire on May 26, according to Reuters.

Washington has repeatedly extended the exemption for Baghdad to use crucial Iranian energy supplies for its power grid, for periods of 90 or 120 days.

Earlier this month, Iraq’s president named intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister-designate, the third person tapped to lead Iraq in just 10 weeks as it struggles to replace a government that fell last year after months of deadly protests.

“Once that government is in place, the Secretary will reassess whether to renew the waiver and for how long,” the US State Department official said.

The official added that the waiver applied only to electricity and referred to the Treasury Department for transactions related to Iranian natural gas imports.

Electricity Minister Luay al-Khatteeb told S&P Global Platts last week that Iraq needs three to four years to complete projects that would provide the necessary natural gas for its power stations.

(Sources: Tasnim, Reuters, S&P Global)

By Barbara Slavin, for the Atlantic Council. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

How the US Military should Leave Iraq

A withdrawal of most US military forces from Iraq seems likely this year as the Iraqi government seeks to maintain some sort of diplomatic and economic relationship with the United States without alienating its powerful neighbor Iran.

How this withdrawal is managed will help determine future US influence not only in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole.

Click here to read the full story.