Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Sudani recently gave an interview with the Wall Street Journal where he said that there was no timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from his country. He also said foreign forces were needed to help fight the Islamic State. His comments could lead to problems with his backers within the Coordination Framework.
The Framework is led mostly by pro-Iran groups that have demanded the United States leave Iraq but the list is in an interesting position right now. Asaib Ahl Al-Haq for instance, which is a leading member in the Framework used to be responsible for some of the attacks on American targets but those have almost completely ended since September 2022. That’s because the factions were more interested in forming the new government and are now dividing up positions. There are reported splits within the Framework so they might use Sudani’s recent statements in this internecine competition for power. On the other hand, some groups my pass on commenting because the top priority is still acquiring government jobs for their patronage networks.
Some groups have already taken after Sudani on the Internet. One group posted excerpts of a Sudani interview on German TV where he said the U.S. was a friend of Iraq and then said that the deaths of Hashd leader Abu Muhandis and Iranian Quds Force commander General Qasim Suleimani were due to this friendship.
Finally, this will be a test of how independent the prime minister can be. That was an open question when he took office as he was part of the Dawa Party and largely put into office thanks to the support of Nouri al-Maliki. His remarks show he has his own ideas and isn’t afraid to express them. Only time will tell whether there’s a political price to be paid.
Al Mada, “Al-Maliki is angry about the rapprochement between Al Asaib and Al-Sudani and his bloc is the biggest loser in the distribution of positions,” 1/15/23
Reuters, “Iraqi PM says in an interview he supports indefinite US troops presence in country,” 1/15/23