| 3 December 2023, Sunday |

Iraqi defense minister starts Washington visit

Iraqi Defense Minister Thabet Mohammed al-Abbasi embarked on a visit to the US on Monday, leading a high-ranking military delegation.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul, spokesperson for the Iraqi Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, stated in a press release that “the delegation will engage in several meetings discussing a range of topics, foremost among them the future relationship of the international coalition’s presence and the bilateral security cooperation between Iraq and the US.”

The delegation will discuss the exchange of expertise and information, particularly in the intelligence domain, aimed at tracking down the remnants of ISIS terrorists.

The visit also entails “a series of meetings with officials at the US Department of Defense to further the mutual interests between the two countries.”

The Iraqi military delegation includes the head of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), Lt. Gen. Abdulwahab Al-Saadi, Chief of Staff of the Army Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, Lt. Gen. Qais Al-Mohammedawi, Deputy Commander of Joint Operations, as well as several advisors and officers.

The visit of the Iraqi delegation comes in response to an invitation from the US Department of Defense, otherwise known as the Pentagon.

“This visit is significant at this time, especially considering that the accompanying delegation to the Defense Minister includes the head of the counter-terrorism bureau, as well as the Chief of Staff of the Army,” security expert Sarmad Al-Bayati told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“There are agreements between Baghdad and Washington, particularly the Strategic Framework Agreement between Iraq and the US, which pertains to training, consultation, capability development, and maintenance, particularly regarding (F-16) aircraft,” he added.

Al-Bayati pointed out that “there are requests for certain weapons that could be of interest to Iraq and requested from the US, in addition to the importance of consultation and training matters.”

He emphasized that “there is a need to review many agreements signed between the two sides.”

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Iraq in March, where he met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat