Munich Security Conference

Iraqi prime minister meets US vice president amid tensions

BAGHDAD — In a pivotal meeting on the sidelines of the 2024 Munich Security Conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris convened for the first high level diplomatic meeting between the U.S. and Iraq following the recent surge in hostilities involving U.S. forces and pro-Iran Iraqi militias.

This encounter comes against the backdrop of a series of attacks on U.S. positions, including one in Jordan that resulted in the deaths of three U.S. personnel. American retaliation on Iraqi soil against the militias has hastened calls for the ejection of U.S. troops from the country.

Both teams issued statements highlighting the discussions’ focus on bolstering the U.S.-Iraq strategic partnership, addressing security concerns, and advancing economic cooperation. Despite the alignment in narratives, each statement subtly diverged in emphasis. The Iraqi readout underscored “sovereignty and successful partnerships for regional stability”.

Conversely, the U.S. statement, while echoing these sentiments, placed a greater emphasis on “security concerns, especially the protection of U.S. personnel,” alongside the continuation of military and economic cooperation aimed at further integrating Iraq into the broader region.

Reflecting on the dialogue through the U.S.-Iraq Higher Military Commission, the discussions aimed to conclude the international coalition’s mission against ISIS in Iraq, signaling the “growth of Iraqi armed forces’ capabilities and the diminishing threat from the remnants of terrorism.” This aligns with the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office’s emphasis on Iraq’s unwavering stance on its ‘sovereignty’ and highlights Harris’s renewal of President Joe Biden’s invitation for Al-Sudani to visit Washington, indicating a mutual interest in maintaining a robust partnership amidst the complex regional dynamics.

The White House’s statement reiterated these themes, noting the reaffirmation of a strong and enduring partnership under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. Vice President Harris underscored the U.S.’s commitment to supporting Iraq towards a secure and stable future.