The cards have been shuffled in the Middle East. Iraq is the outstanding country. Iraq did what Turkey couldn’t do with the initiative taken by its Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. He started the reconciliation movement both in Iraq and the Middle East.
While Turkey gradually becomes more polarized in its domestic politics, Iraqi the Prime Minister put together a national reconciliation conference. He invited political movements representing all segments of the society in Iraq to, “express the problems you see” and “resolve them”.
The success of the conference was solidified by the participation of many of Iraq’s political movements, including the Sadrists, who had announced a boycott elections to be held in Iraq in •ctober but then reversed that decision last week. Iraq chose to resolve its problems not by fighting but discussing and talking.
Kadhimi also hosted the cooperation and partnership conference for the Middle East in Baghdad following the national reconciliation conference. The conference gathered many countries at the highest level, countries which initially said they wouldn’t sit at the same table.
IRAN AND ARABS ARE ON THE WAY TO PEACE
Low-level inter-delegation meetings between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosted by Iraq had already begun over the previous months. The foreign ministers of Iran and Arab countries gathered around the same table at the last conference in Baghdad.
Tensions haven’t completely ended yet. Iran’s new Foreign Minister, for instance, preferred to pose next to Egyptian President Sisi instead of going to his place allocated near Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister when the group photo was taken following the conference. Nonetheless, the two sworn enemies did manage to be in the same room, and in a photo, together.
The conference was also important in terms of inter-Arab reconciliation. It revealed that tensions/blockades/mutual withdrawal of envoys between other Arab countries were a thing of the past under the leadership of Qatar, Saudi Arabia-UAE.
CAVUSOGLU IS IN THE SAME FRAME WITH SISI
Another striking element of the family photo following the Baghdad conference was that the Turkey-Egypt tension seemed to be on the path of reconciliation. In the group photo taken after the conference, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was in the same frame with Egypt’s President El-Sisi, who President Erdogan has called a murderer, coup-plotter, and tyrant for years.
The noticeable deficiency at the conference, which all regional countries attended, was the lack of participation from Syria. Apparently, the AK Party government, which accepted being in the same picture as Sisi, didn’t want to show the same tolerance yet when it comes the Bashar al Assad administration in Damascus. Iraqis didn’t include Syria in the meeting or the group photo, at least at this first step for the ‘welfare’ of the conference.
MACRON SHOWED OFF
Regional countries Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, Kuwait, Egypt, and Jordan attended the Baghdad conference either at the level of leaders or foreign ministers. However, there was also a ‘surprise’ country: French President Emmanuel Macron, involved in the conference in the ‘co-organizing ’ position with Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi.
The Baghdad conference has concretely revealed that France wants to fill the gap in the Middle East, as the U.S. withdraws. Following the conference in Baghdad, Macron showed off a bit by visiting the autonomous Kurdish region in Northern Iraq and Mosul. By comparison, which AK Party government official visited Mosul last? When did he go? •r let’s ask the question this way: Has any AK Party government official paid a visit to Mosul after it was retaken from ISIS?
In fact, Turkey is very close to Iraq, while France is not. Nowadays, France is doing in the Middle East what it did before in the Eastern Mediterranean, while the AK Party government tries to undertake the operation at Kabul Airport though it just can’t explain to the public why it needs this. France is gradually gaining a bigger voice than Ankara in the Middle East, the Aegean and the Mediterranean, where Turkey’s fortunes will be made or lost.
Macron is strutting in Turkey’s southern neighbor Iraq, where Turkey has many interests, while Ankara can only play the supporting actor role with Cavusoglu. This is the performance of the AK Party government condemning Turkey to obligatory solitude…