The High Military Committee
A new chapter in Iraq-U.S. relations, or appeasing the attacks on US bases
January 26 — The announcement of the High Military Committee (HMC) by the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs marks a pivotal moment in the relationship between Iraq and the United States, and the international community. While this development was met with various supportive official reactions, the complexity and significance of this step is viewed with skepticism as analysts and observers see it as a US-Iraqi step to appease those who attack US bases in Iraq. This announcement was explained further by the country’s National Security Advisor, Qasim al-Araji who confirmed the Iraqi Military Committee’s engagement in negotiations with the international coalition, focusing on organizing a comprehensive relationship with the U.S. and reorganizing ties for national security.
The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared the formation of the HMC as a result of negotiations with the United States, emphasizing its role in assessing the ISIS threat. They underlined the aim to establish a clear timetable for the presence of international advisors in Iraq, indicating a transition from military to political and economic relations. The ministry stressed the national interest in the committee’s success and its contribution to regional stability. They reaffirmed Iraq’s commitment to the safety of international coalition advisors.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced the commencement of the HMC, highlighting it as a symbol of the U.S.’s commitment to regional stability and Iraqi sovereignty. The HMC is seen as a transition to a lasting bilateral security partnership, building upon Iraq’s successes against ISIS. Austin emphasized the importance of the HMC in evolving the Coalition’s mission against ISIS and ensuring a resurgence is prevented.
Italy and France, members of the international coalition, declared their support for the initiative. The Italian embassy in Iraq supported the HMC dialogue, reaffirming commitment to a stable and sovereign Iraq. while the French Embassy issued a press release welcomed the U.S.-Iraq dialogue through HMC and promised continued support for Iraq’s stability and sovereignty and expressing readiness for deeper bilateral cooperation.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party which controls most of the area that the attacks are taking place, were one of the first groups to support the the new step. KDP Leader Masoud Barzani supported the Iraqi-American agreement, emphasizing the importance of protecting Iraq from external threats and continuing the fight against terrorism. he stressed the security and safety of the Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani echoed this message and welcomed the agreement, expressing Kurdistan Region’s support for the HMC and its role in enhancing bilateral relations and cooperation in various domains.
Iraqi Defense Minister Thabit Al-Abbasi, announced the preparedness of the Iraqi Armed Forces to take over the country’s security, indicating upcoming discussions with the international coalition for withdrawal timelines.
National State Forces Alliance, a coalition of Mr Ammar Al-Hakim And Haider Al-Abadi, endorsed the agreement, viewing it as a step towards managing the presence of International Coalition Forces in Iraq, emphasizing the need for broadening relations in multiple fields for Iraq’s stability and progress.
The Coordination Framework, an alliance of all the Shia parties who are in government, also welcomed the dialogue initiation, urging a clear timeline for coalition advisors’ presence in Iraq. They stressed the importance of transitioning to comprehensive bilateral relations, commending the government’s commitment to redefining the international coalition’s presence.
US Ambassador Alina L Romanowski expressed in a tweet her support for the HMC, recognizing it as a continuation of the successful bilateral discussions and the Iraq’s Defeat-ISIS campaign.
The formation of the HMC and the accompanying statements reveal a multi-party need to address the future of the coalition presence in Iraq with each entity reflecting its own perspective and interests in the evolving debate of Iraq’s sovereignty and regional stability. The progress and outcome of negotiations will reveal if this step is truly to achieve a new phase of relations between Iraq and the USA or if it is a maneuver to appease Iran and the groups under the umbrella of “Islamic Resistance” to refrain from attacking US interests in Iraq.