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USA/Iraq – US House to vote to repeal Iraq war authorisation (Al Jazeera)

The United States House of Representatives will vote later this week to repeal the authorisation of war that Congress gave to former President George W Bush in 2002 enabling the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The motion to repeal the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq, coming for the first time with support from President Joe Biden, is expected to be taken up in the House on Thursday, CNN reported.

The Biden administration said on Monday that the US “has no ongoing military activities that rely solely on the 2002 AUMF as a domestic legal basis” and its repeal “would likely have minimal impact on current military operations”.

But the upcoming vote is seen as a start in a larger debate in the US Congress about revising and re-establishing the US legal basis for the deployment of military forces in Iraq and elsewhere in what congressional critics call the “forever wars”.

“The President is committed to working with the Congress to ensure that outdated authorizations for the use of military force are replaced with a narrow and specific framework appropriate to ensure that we can continue to protect Americans from terrorist threats,” the White House said in a statement on Monday supporting the House repeal.

However, without a replacement authorisation that addresses modern-day circumstances in Iraq, repeal of the US law faces scepticism from legislators in the Senate, which also must agree for the House resolution to take effect.

“The 2002 AUMF was largely about Saddam Hussein, it is also clearly used to address terrorist threats in and emanating from Iraq,” said Representative Michael McCaul.

“Unless we hear from our military that the 2002 AUMF no longer serves the purpose of protecting Americans, we should not repeal before replacing,” said McCaul, a Republican.

The issue came to the fore most recently with the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by US forces on Iraqi soil, an act many members of Congress viewed as unjustified and reckless. The Trump administration later cited the 2002 Iraq war authorisation as legal justification for the Soleimani hit.

US and NATO troops invaded Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks and the former Bush administration then pushed for and obtained authorisation from Congress to invade Iraq in a preemptive war to topple Saddam Hussein and prevent Iraq from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush administration’s pretext for invading Iraq was later shown to be based on false claims and former President Barack Obama agreed to withdraw most US forces from Iraq in 2011.

“There are Iran sponsored terrorist groups active today inside Iraq who threaten our diplomats, our soldiers and our citizens,” McCaul said.

Defense Department lawyers in the prior Trump administration had strongly opposed a stand-alone repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF because it would remove the authority for US military action against the militia groups.

Nevertheless, there is broad support among Democrats in Congress repeal of the 2002 authorisation of war in Iraq, as well as an earlier 2001 authorisation Congress passed related to al-Qaeda and Afghanistan.

Biden has put in motion plans to withdraw US and allied foreign troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks.

Across the years, both the 2001 and 2002 AMUFs have been used by successive presidents to justify a range of military actions, including drone attacks in Yemen, that in some cases have little to do with the original conflicts Congress sought to address.

“The idea that they have not been repealed or ended just doesn’t make any sense,” said Representative Jim McGovern, a leading Democrat.

“It’s either that we just haven’t done our due diligence, or we are not keeping a close watch on these things,” McGovern said on Monday.

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Iraq/United Nations – The prospects and limitations of United Nations election observation in Iraq (Brookings)

In October 2021, after nearly two years of intermittent protests that brought down the government of Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Iraqis are posed to go to the polls for early elections. One of the main debates surrounding early elections is the degree of involvement of the United Nations. Many political elites have called for an observational role for the U.N., which is limited in scope and can have unintended consequences. Meanwhile, many of the protesters, who had boycotted elections in 2018 and who have concerns about integrity of Iraqi-run elections are calling for more extensive involvement through supervision.

The prospects and limitations of United Nations election observation in Iraq

Marsin Alshamary and Maya Nir

 

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Iraq – Providing security in Iraq – what do Iraqis think? (DIIS)

Maria-Louise Clausen

Denmark assumed leadership of NATO Mission Iraq in late 2020. The Iraqi people’s perceptions of their personal security and of those who provide it can impact the success of this mission. A recent survey provides new insights.

https://www.diis.dk/en/research/providing-security-in-iraq-what-do-iraqis-think

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Iraq/USA – Iraq: The Missing Keystone in U.S. Policy in the Gulf (CSIS)

Anthony H. Cordesman

One of the odd side effects of both the U.S. focus on withdrawal from Afghanistan and on the possible revival of the JCPOA agreement with Iran is that U.S. relations with Iraq seems to be getting passing attention at best. In practice, U.S. relations with Iraq, its development as a stable and secure state, and ensuring that it can become independent of Iranian influence may well be far more important than leaving Afghanistan and reviving the JCPOA.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/iraq-missing-keystone-us-policy-gulf

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Iraq/Gulf- Can Iraq play the role of a bridge in the Gulf? (Brookings)

Katherine Harvey and Bruce Riedel

There has been a gradual thaw in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iraq since 2015, and a number of notable developments have taken place in recent months. Last November, the Arar border crossing — the principle crossing between the two countries — was opened for the first time in 30 years.

Can Iraq play the role of a bridge in the Gulf?

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Iraq – Kataib Hezbollah controls access points to key Iraqi border city (Al-Monitor)

Shelly Kittleson

Iran-linked armed groups have over the past year tightened and consolidated their grip on a key border area between Iraq and Syria, preventing journalists from entering and local residents from farming their land.

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/04/kataib-hezbollah-controls-access-points-key-iraqi-border-city

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Iraq – Iraq Puts Faith in Total To Deliver More Gas, Water, and Solar Projects (AGSIW)

A $7 billion deal with French oil major Total could provide a lifeline for Iraq’s fragile economy.

Iraq Puts Faith in Total To Deliver More Gas, Water, and Solar Projects

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Iran/Iraq – Shariatmadari calls for exchange of skilled labor forces with Iraq (IRNA)

Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Shariatmadari in a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Adel al-Rikabi proposed exchanging skillful labor forces with Iraq.

https://en.irna.ir/news/84292666/Shariatmadari-calls-for-exchange-of-skilled-labor-forces-with

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Iran/Iraq – Adopting plan for cooperation will serve to flourish Iran-Iraq economies (IRNA)

Adopting plan for economic cooperation and joint venture investment has been considered as one of the most important elements to serve Iran-Iraq economies to flourish.

https://en.irna.ir/news/84292473/Adopting-plan-for-cooperation-will-serve-to-flourish-Iran-Iraq

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Iran/Iraq – Iran signs five-year economic cooperation document with Iraq (IRNA)

Iran’s Minister of cooperatives, labor and social affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari who is on an official visit to Iraq signed a five-year economic cooperation agreement with Iraq on Sunday.

https://en.irna.ir/news/84292130/Iran-signs-five-year-economic-cooperation-document-with-Iraq