Iraq’s National Security Council approve joint strategic agreement with US
On Monday, 14 August, Iraq approved the outcomes of a Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue (JSCD ) with the United States to form a joint high committee with the US-led global coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, Iraq's Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, late on Monday, chaired a meeting of the Ministerial Council for National Security, in which security developments and challenges, as well as strategies for addressing them, have been discussed, Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement on Tuesday, 15 August.
A senior military and security delegation led by Iraqi defence minister Thabet al-Abbasi visited the US on 7 August and discussed the US-Iraq strategic partnership in combating terrorism and assisting and advising the Iraqi security forces.
"The Council was briefed on a review of the joint dialogue between the two countries, which covered bilateral security cooperation according to the Strategic Framework Agreement and the shape of the future relationship between Iraq and the Global Coalition Against Daesh [ISIS]," read the statement. "The Iraqi delegation stressed Iraq's sovereignty principles, the growing capabilities of all branches of the Armed Forces, and their role in safeguarding security, stability, and border integrity."
The delegation included Iraq's national security adviser, the director of the counterterrorism service, the commander of Iraq's joint operations and his deputy, and other senior officials.
The delegation held a series of meetings with top US officials, including Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin, Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, and Alina Romanowski, the US ambassador to Iraq.
"Following the briefing, the Council approved the Iraqi delegation's agreement with the United States to form a joint high committee with the Global Coalition Against Daesh, aimed at implementing the joint dialogue's outcomes," Rasool added. "In this context, the Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief instructed the Army's Chief of Staff to engage with the Global Coalition Against ISIS leadership in Iraq to initiate the bilateral committee's operations."
Rasool also indicated that the council approved Iraq's accession to the international database for lost and stolen weapons, "aiming to enhance control over these arms."
"The United States and the Republic of Iraq intend to consult on a future process, separate from the JSCD and inclusive of the Coalition, to determine how the Coalition's military mission will evolve on a timeline according to the following factors: the threat from ISIS," Iraq and the US said in a joint statement on 8 August. "Operational and environmental requirements, and ISF capability levels. The Iraqi and US delegations committed to form a higher military commission between the US and Iraq to evaluate the future process described above."
Although Iraqi officials try to portray that the visit by the Iraqi delegation was "successful" and that the US has no problems with the current situation in Iraq, statements by the Iraqi prime minister and militias that Iran backs suggest an opposite view.
On Monday, Sudani asserted publicly that the country does not need foreign combatant troops.
The US is unwilling to receive Sudani in Washington, as they do not want to give complete legitimacy to his government, Kazim al-Fartusi, the spokesperson of Iran-backed Kataeb Sayyid al-Shuhada Shia group in Iraq, told iNews Iraqi satellite channel on Sunday.
"The US has told the Iraqi delegation that Iraq's security agencies, including counterterrorism service, should be separated from the government under an independent administration; these are very dangerous attempts that should be mentioned," al-Fartusi cautioned.
Meanwhile, General Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps( IRGC), was said to have visited Baghdad on Tuesday.
There are wide speculations in Iraq that one of the main conditions by the US President Joe Bidne's administration to receive Sudani in Washington is that he should dismantle the country's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), which includes pro-Iran militias.
"A decision has formed the PMF from the Iraqi parliament, and only the parliament can dissolve the PMF," Sagvan Sindi, the Deputy Head of the Security and Defence Committee in the Iraqi parliament, told The New Arab in a phone call.
Sudani came under public criticism on Monday when he first received commanders of the PMF and then senior army generals in line who participated in liberating Mosul from ISIS militants.
The PMF was established in June 2014 after a fatwa [a religious edict] was issued by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq's Shia community.
Al-Sistani urged young men to step up to fight the Islamic State (IS), an extremist group which tore through Syria and Iraq before capturing a third of the country in the summer of 2014.
PMF militias were officially incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces in 2016. Yet, several of these units proudly flaunt their loyalty to Iran.
ISIS proclaimed itself as a 'caliphate' following a meteoric rise in Iraq and Syria in 2014 that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory.
The US-led coalition helped defeat ISIS in Iraq in 2017 and Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist group still carry out attacks in both countries.