Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki is in Moscow where he openly declared that he seeks a military and political alliance with the Russian Federation. After talks with Valentina Matvienko, the Speaker of the Federation Council of Russia, al-Maliki stated the following,
“It is known that Russia has historically strong relations with Iraq. So, we would like Russia to have a substantial presence in our country, politically and militarily. This way, a balance would be established that would benefit the region, its peoples and its countries”.
During a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, al-Maliki spoke of the importance of working closely with Russia in order to avoid Iraq being imposed upon by a “foreign political entity”. Given Iraq’s close relationship with Iran, the clear country which al-Maliki is warning of imposing undue influence on Iraq is the United States.
Iraq earlier affirmed a military alliance with Iran, a country that Iraq waged war upon under the Presidency of Saddam Hussein. Iraq’s Vice President also recently praised Russia’s role in Syria, a country which Iraq once again considers an ally for the first time since the Ba’ath Party split in 1966 which saw the Syrian and Iraqi factions of the Ba’ath party become rivals in spite of a shared ideology.
During times of chaos which the US and its allies caused in Iraq, Washington could not control the situation on the ground in the country. Now that Iraq’s government is showing signs of stability, the United States is increasingly no longer able to control the political trajectory of the country.
While al-Maliki recently slammed the US as trying to take credit for the fight against ISIS which he was more willing to praise Iran for its role in, his words for Russia are 180 degrees in the opposite direction. In respect of Russia, al-Maliki seeks to restore the good relations Baghdad had with the Soviet Union during the virtually the entirety of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Iraq was the Middle Eastern country that America was supposed to control the most but increasingly, it appears that Iraq is slipping through America’s fingers as it steadily regains its independence.
If al-Maliki gets his wish and America vacates Iraq, it would be the most dramatic American exit from a country since the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.