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Iraqi leader dismisses US efforts in Middle East

Iraqi leader dismisses US efforts in Middle East

by host

DAVOS, Switzerland — Iraq’s prime minister scoffed Thursday at U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign against Hamas and lay out long-term plans for a more peaceful Middle East, noting that Israeli leaders aren’t onboard.

In comments at the World Economic Forum, Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani dismissed in particular Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s more hopeful earlier remarks about how the crisis playing out in the Gaza Strip could be a chance to get back on track for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Blinken, who was in Davos on Tuesday and Wednesday, also stressed that doing so should involve broader efforts at improving Israel’s ties with Arab countries that have long shunned it.

“That is nothing new, what Mr. Blinken has said. Everybody has said the same thing, basically,” Al Sudani said during a session moderated by POLITICO Global Editor-in-Chief John Harris. “What is being said by Blinken is refused by the Israeli government. Even the post-war scenario is refused from the Israelis.”

“The international community has failed,” the Iraqi leader added. “The International organizations have failed. The international institutions have failed in this unjustifiable, unacceptable death that is unraveling before us in Gaza.”

The remarks underscored the obstacles and skepticism the United States faces in the Middle East as it tries to rally countries to help it find a way out of the Israel-Hamas fight and broader regional tensions. 

Washington is trying to keep the battle from expanding into a full-blown regional war, but it’s also urging Israelis and Palestinians to start planning for post-war scenarios. That includes the critical question of who will govern Gaza, the scene of much of the fighting and which was long controlled by the militants of Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resisted U.S. plans that call for a reformed Palestinian Authority to eventually take over Gaza. The Palestinian Authority governs in parts of the West Bank, but Netanyahu has long viewed it as an unacceptable partner.

Since Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people, the Israeli military response has killed more than 22,000 in Gaza, while displacing hundreds of thousands.

Iraq is among the countries affected by the fallout from the crisis. That’s largely because of its ties to Iran, a major backer of Hamas and other militant groups in the region.

U.S. forces based in Iraq have come under fire from Iranian-backed militias, and have responded in kind. The U.S. carried out a recent drone strike that killed an Iranian-backed militia leader in Baghdad.

That has led Iraq’s government to say it is looking at ending the U.S. military presence on its soil, which, as part of an international coalition, has helped Baghdad battle the Islamic State militant group.

Al Sudani insisted that at some point the U.S.-led coalition had to wrap up its role in his country.

“The sooner we withdraw the coalition, it is a necessity for the stability, the security of Iraq,” he said, speaking through a translator.

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