Iraqi Foreign Minister failed to attract Russian troops in Iraq

Russia and new Iraqi regime signed important agreements on cooperation, but no agreement on Russian troops deployment in Iraq has been reached.
During his 2-day visit Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zibari had negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and met with Secretary of Russian Security Council Igor Ivanov.
After landing in Sheremetievo airport, Mr. Zibari voiced reporters his interest in having Russian soldiers on Iraqi soil. Several hours later, at the joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Hoshiyar Zibari repudiated his words. “I’ve made no statement of this kind. We are well aware of Russia’s opinion on this issue. There are many ways in which Russia could provide Iraq with assistance. Head of Russian Foreign Ministry was flat as well, “This issue has never been on agenda, it has never been taken in consideration. We have no plans in the regard”.

Foreign reporters were surprised with the refusal of the Iraqi from his own words said earlier. They tried to ask Russian Foreign Minister for explanation. “What bad consequences will Russia have if it deploys its troops in Iraq?”, was the questions by Al-Jaseera reporter. “I see no sense to ask this kind of question”, the Iraqi Foreign Minister replied. This issue was not considered, and for this reason we cannot speak on good and bad”.

Probably the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Iraq had a conversation on this. The Iraqi authorities understand why Russia is not eager to send its soldiers in Iraqi desert. The main reason is Russian public denouncing Russian involvement in peace-keeping operations abroad while there are many problems inside Russia, in Chechnya and Ingushetia. It is hard to say why Mr. Zibari did not know this.

Experts believe that Hoshiyar Zibari could be aware of the opinion of Russian public. However, his mission was only to send the invitations to international coalition all over the world as Baghdad and Washington asked him. He could hardly count on being successful in Moscow, but  he had to make an official inquiry. This measure could at least prevent Russia from opposing Washington and Baghdad in their efforts to find peacekeepers for crusial Middle Eastern area.

Remarkably, Zibari did not look upset when he was leaving Moscow. He received very important assurances on the other issues of the negotiations agenda. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is ready to support Iraq in restoring its sovereignty – primarily in the sphere of economics, and also by training Iraqi specialists. “I assure you that Russia’s contribution in Iraq will be of not less importance than the contribution of the multi-national peacekeepers”, said the Russian Foreign Minister.

Russian companies can participate in reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure. In the summer of 2003, after the end of the war, Russian companies renewed their work in Iraq, but they withdrew in April, 2004 because of safety concerns. According to Zibari, Iraq is interested in Russian companies’ return. First of all, Iraq needs specialist on power energy, oil drilling and oil processing. There is an idea to follow the existing contracts while the situation with signing new ones is uncertain. The Ministers agreed to continue consultations on this issue.

Russian Foreign Minister said that Moscow is ready to consider the option of restructuring the Iraqi debt to Russia ($8 billion).

Arthur Blinov

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Author`s name Marina Lebedeva