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Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani inspects a project in Baghdad. (X)
 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani is preparing for a busy month when he will meet with US President Joe Biden in Washington in mid-April before receiving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Baghdad on April 22.

The meetings will be held days after Iraq marks the 21st anniversary of the US invasion, which took place on April 9, 2003.

Sudani is visiting the US at the invitation of the White House amid a highly volatile and complex regional scene with the war on Gaza and the Iraqi government’s efforts to rein in armed factions that have launched attacks against American forces deployed in the country.

Baghdad is hoping to develop relations with Washington during Sudani’s trip. A prominent Iraqi official said the PM is expected to discuss the phase that follows the withdrawal of the forces of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition from Iraq.

New understandings

Sudani needs to reach new understandings with the US over the international forces and agree on a “security partnership”. The pro-Iran Coordination Framework is hoping for “flexibility” from Washington over sanctions it has imposed on banks and Iraqi figures.

Sudani and Biden are also expected to discuss oil exports from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and legal and political disputes between Baghdad and Erbil.

However, the greatest challenge facing Sudani is the new political opposition emerging against him from Shiite allies within the ruling Coordination Framework.

An agreement among the coalition had allowed Sudani to be appointed PM.

Influential leaders in the alliance are now trying to impose conditions on the premier to prevent him from running in next year’s parliamentary elections.

Political sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Framework is worried that Sudani would seek to make gains in his favor during his trip to Washington and not address the sanctions against the coalition.

The sources were present at a meeting Sudani held last week with academics and policymakers. They said the PM stated that the early elections would not pose a threat to his government.

Sudani appeared confident because he was focusing on his government program, which focuses on services and developing Iraq’s regional and international relations, they added.

Biden and Erdogan

Soon after his return from the US, Sudani will welcome Erdogan for talks, which an official from the PM’s office described as “significant and historic” for Iraq and Türkiye.

Erdogan will be visiting on the heels of municipal elections where the opposition defeated him in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. Biden is also in a precarious position ahead of this year’s presidential elections.

Sudani seems the only official sitting comfortably in his position, which he may use in his favor during his summits with Biden and Erdogan, said Iraqi observers.

They noted that Biden doesn’t have many conditions to propose to Sudani, who is seeking to make gains in the strategic agreement framework signed between Baghdad and Washington in 2008 in order to ease the current tensions between the armed factions and US forces.

For his part, Erdogan is keen on compensating for his elections defeat by making foreign gains. He is eyeing the Development Road initiative launched by Sudani that could help revive Türkiye's economy.

Should the two officials reach an agreement on the initiative, then perhaps they could make progress in resolving disputes between Baghdad and Ankara over the chronic water file and Kurdistan Workers’ Party. By Hamza Mustafa, Arab World

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