German FM in Baghdad for de-escalation talks as regional instability boils
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas held talks in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Saturday.
Maas arrived in Iraq earlier in the day as part of a wider trip to the Middle East aimed at de-escalating tensions between Iran and the United States.
In his talks with the Iraqi leader, Mass was also expected to discuss regional investment.
Iraq is seeking tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment to rebuild its infrastructure and boost gas, oil, and electricity production, after 17 years of war.
His visit comes days after Baghdad’s Green Zone fully reopened to the public – enhancing Iraqi freedom of movement and signalling to economic progression.
The move, which took place on Tuesday, is also being viewed as another signal that Iraq is getting back on its feet after decades of conflict – and that its government is searching for political capital to head off summertime protests.
"It proves that the situation is stable, that businesses and investors can come to Iraq," said Fadel Abou Raghif, an Iraqi security expert.
But for Abu Sadek, a 40-year-old electrician and one of Baghdad's eight million residents, there is more to be done.
"What people want is less traffic, less poverty, and public services like water, electricity, and healthcare," he told AFP.
"It's been 15 years that government officials do nothing for us."
Most Iraqis were categorically barred from the Baghdadi bubble, while those who owned homes inside had to acquire special badges granting them permission to enter in an attempt to shield the area from instability.
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