Regional security summit in Baghdad
Senior representatives from the Gulf states as well as Iran have met in the Iraqi capital Baghdad to reduce regional tensions. It was agreed to combine efforts to stabilize the region.
Leaders of the Middle East met in the Iraqi capital Baghdad to reduce regional tensions. The summit focused on the fight against ISIS and other radical Islamist extremist groups. Also on the agenda was the conflict-generating regional water crisis, as well as the rapprochement of two arch-enemies, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and their proxy conflicts.
"We oppose turning Iraq into a theater for regional and international conflicts," Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi said at the opening of the conference Saturday. He said the country wants to cultivate relations with other states through cooperation and integration - without foreign interference in internal affairs. Whether Kadhimi was referring to the West remained unclear. However, he said France sees his country as a "partner" in the fight against terrorism.
Macron calls for prospects for Iraqi youth
Iran's new Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, was joined by his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan, Egypt's Head of State Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan's King Abdullah II and representatives of Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. French President Emmanuel Macron was also present as a co-organizer. The main purpose of the meeting was stability in Iraq, "which will obviously contribute to stability in the entire region," Macron said. He added that one must "not become careless" in the fight against ISIS. The right conditions must also be created in Iraq for young people to avoid drifting into "extremism and terrorism," the French president said. The October Revolution against unemployment and corruption that erupted in Iraq in 2019 was largely carried out by the youth.
French soldiers remain in Iraq
Macron also assured Iraq that French soldiers would remain in the country as long as necessary as part of the fight against terrorism. He said that was regardless of whether or not the U.S. decides to withdraw. "We will maintain our presence for the fight against terrorism as long as the terrorist groups continue their activities and as long as the Iraqi government asks us to do so," Macron said. France has the operational capacity to do so, he stated, regardless of what the Americans decide. About 800 French troops are currently stationed in Iraq and Jordan, according to Macron. A large number of American troops had been withdrawn from Iraq under former U.S. President Donald Trump. Currently, some 2,500 U.S. troops remain in the country. Trump's successor Joe Biden announced in July that the combat mission would be discontinued at the end of the year.
Negotiations with Taliban
At the closing press conference, Macron also said negotiations with the Taliban organization were taking place on evacuations of Afghan nationals. However, he said the talks were extremely fragile. "We have started talks with Taliban on humanitarian operations and on the protection as well as the return home of vulnerable Afghan women and men. We are working with Qatar, among others, to move forward with these operations," Macron said. The regional summit concluded with an agreement to "join efforts to stabilize the region."