Between Cairo and Baghdad ... promising cooperation and penetration of the Arab axis in Iran's backyard
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Between Cairo and Baghdad ... promising cooperation and penetration of the Arab axis in Iran's backyard
The consecutive indications show an Arab move to rescue Iraq from the clutches of the Iranian quagmire in which Baghdad fell after the American invasion, which made the eastern gate of the Arab countries (Iraq) a gateway to the influence of the Wali al-Faqih and a prelude to the Shiite Persian control disguised in religious and sectarian dress and bearing hatred and a nationalist Iranian desire to destroy peace and stability. the countries.
It can be said that the task of uprooting Iran from the Iraqi depth; It has become much more difficult and has increasing complexities .. However, leaving Iraq without any Arab support or Arab keys to its policy makes it vulnerable to falling into other regional projects, such as aligning itself with Tehran (in reality) or aligning itself with the Turkish project, for example .. which are dimensions that seem to have governed the orientations of the Arab policymaker in The previous stage, and we found meetings of Gulf and Saudi officials with Iraqi politicians and influential people ... with the crystallization of a new alignment, represented by Jordanian, Iraqi, Egyptian meetings that culminated in a summit of the leaders of the three countries after a tripartite Iraqi-Jordanian-Egyptian summit held in the Jordanian capital Amman, on the 25th of last August. This was the first summit of its kind as it came after the Cairo summits in March 2019 and New York in September of the same year, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings.
The economic dimension seized the largest share of the tripartite summit talks ... with the accumulated economic crises that the three countries are suffering, and the political side remained within the scope of expressing common positions in regional files, such as Iranian and Turkish interventions in the files of Iraq, Syria and Libya (it is the least interested) , As it was not clearly and explicitly expressed in the shared data.
Despite the outcomes of the summit, which focused on the economic aspects, which were represented by important projects and agreements, the resumption of their talks and the commencement of their implementation are expected, which is related to the two most important members of the new lineup (Egypt and Iraq), since Jordan is considered a transport node and a connecting road between them.
Then came the visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein to Cairo, on the 12th of last October, and then the tripartite coordination mechanism meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq was held on the 13th of the same month.
Last Saturday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly paid an official visit to Baghdad at the head of a large ministerial delegation to lead the Egyptian side in the meetings of the Iraqi-Egyptian High Committee for joint cooperation. (At the start of his first visit by the Egyptian prime minister since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, if not the first since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991)
In turn, Iraqi government sources told German News Agency, “The prime minister will hold a series of meetings with Iraqi President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi and Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, and he will also head his country's delegation to the meetings of the Supreme Committee for joint cooperation at the level of prime ministers of Iraq and Egypt.”
The day before the visit, A delegation of experts in both countries completed a series of meetings to prepare for holding meetings of the joint Iraqi-Egyptian higher committee and concluding a series of agreements and memoranda of understanding between the two countries.
Results of the visit
The composition of the Egyptian delegation carried a clear message about the importance Cairo attaches to cooperation with Baghdad. Madbouly was accompanied by a high-level delegation that included the ministers of electricity, petroleum, manpower, international cooperation, health, housing, transport, civil aviation, trade and industry, and the CEO of the Investment Authority, any team that constitutes the bulk of the Egyptian government formation, confirming the importance it attaches to Egypt for this visit up to the stage of strategic partnership
And it resulted in a visit last Saturday; The two countries signed 15 agreements, memoranda of understanding and cooperation protocol between the two countries, which included the fields of electricity, gas, renewable energy, war industries, communications, transport and reconstruction, as well as other sectors ... in Madbouly’s visit, in which a number of officials and businessmen accompanied him to Iraq, to participate in the work of the Supreme Committee The Egyptian-Iraqi Joint Venture, (run by the prime ministers of the two countries), about three weeks after the visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein to Cairo.
It can be said - according to many indications - to an Egyptian desire to increase its influence and presence in the Iraqi economy through the "reconstruction" portal, and this explains the announcement of the establishment of the oil-for-reconstruction mechanism, after an initial agreement carried out by the visit ..
It is mentioned here that the outputs of the tripartite summit bore a dimension of energy and oil .. where an oil pipeline would be extended from Basra, southern Iraq, to the port of Aqaba in Jordan, and then to Egypt, so that Jordan would, accordingly, obtain Iraqi oil at a price lower than the international market price. , In addition to the transit fees .. While Egypt benefits from the process of refining part of the Iraqi oil on its territory, Iraq will import electricity from Egypt, where Baghdad can benefit from the Egyptian expertise in the reconstruction process.
Promote and support
Al-Kazemi took advantage of the joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart; To express Baghdad's aspiration to increase communication and coordination between educational, cultural and religious institutions and to work together through these institutions, in order to reach the common goals of spreading moderation and combating terrorism and extremism.
Al-Kazemi indicated that his government attaches utmost importance to the joint Iraqi-Egyptian-Jordanian committee, which held its meeting in Amman last August, where he said that he looks forward to developing this tripartite cooperation in a sustainable framework of economic integration and strategic cooperation.
As for the head of the Egyptian government, he explained that the level of bilateral cooperation between the two sides is level. He witnessed the discussion of Egypt's readiness with all its experiences to implement a number of major projects in the sectors of infrastructure, energy, electricity, oil, gas, housing and transportation to support Iraq, indicating the consensus on the speed of activating a group of projects that can be implemented through Egyptian companies, within the mechanism of "oil for reconstruction" The Iraqi government projects according to its priorities.
Madbouly pointed out that the form of this mechanism that was established will be activated, through which the partnership between the two countries will begin to implement various projects, whether developmental or investment.
Madbouly also mentioned that the two sides agreed on the issue of water security for the two countries, as they are downstream states, and emphasized that it is one of the common national security issues. The interests of the two countries in preserving their water rights have also been emphasized, as it is a matter that affects Arab national security.
Cairo seeks broad participation in the reconstruction file, and Baghdad is controlling its direction
Some observers believe that the vision of the Iraqi government is currently moving to reset its relations in the Arab neck and restore its balance at this level .. as the relationship with Egypt is an important prelude and an effective entry point for such a trend in light of Egypt's efforts to contribute through its private and public companies to the Iraqi reconstruction file.
The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a statement last Saturday that "the visit of the Egyptian delegation to Baghdad comes as a continuation of the round of in-depth discussions conducted by Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein in Cairo."
As the spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Ahmed Al-Sahhaf, indicated that "Iraq is keen to maintain these efforts and relations, according to equal and common interests."
As for Ibrahim Al-Minshawi, a professor of political science at Cairo University, he explained - as quoted by The Independent Arabia -, that “there is no doubt that the improvement of relations between Cairo and Baghdad and their synergy strengthens the standing in the face of common challenges and risks between the two countries, based on the belief in the unity of destiny and common interests, and the depth of historical relations. Between the two peoples ”..
The specialist explained that "the constants of the Egyptian policy towards Iraq are based on the necessity of preserving its unity and sovereignty and rejecting foreign interference, or illegal attacks within its borders."
According to Al-Minshawi, the Egyptian move towards Iraq is based on the "oil-for-reconstruction mechanism", as Cairo finds in its public and private companies the ability to compete and have a strong presence in investing in the Iraqi economy.
It should be noted here that among the agreements and memoranda of cooperation signed by the two countries on the last visit, a memorandum of understanding between the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, and another in the field of roads and bridges, signed on the Egyptian side by the Minister of Transport, Kamel Al-Wazir, and the Iraqi Minister of Construction, Housing and Public Works. Nazanin Muhammad Wos, as well as a third related to cooperation in the field of housing and construction.
The implementation of the electrical connection project; It gives Cairo a new market for the export of electricity after Egypt achieved self-sufficiency in the electricity sector since 2015, and its production last year reached about 58 thousand megawatts, (its consumption exceeds by about 53%, in addition to a reserve of up to 25%).
And with Egypt facing strong competition in the African market for electricity, after the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project - the largest hydropower project in Africa - which gives it an alternative outlet represented by the Iraqi and Jordanian market.
As for the oil transportation project, it gives Cairo the opportunity to obtain Iraqi oil at low prices. As for Jordan - perhaps - there is no tangible change in electricity subsidies in Jordan, and the discounts obtained from importing Iraqi oil are continuing before the establishment of the electrical interconnection project, but there may be a benefit. The political situation for Jordan lies in exploiting its strategic geographical location to be the electrical connection compass in the Arabian Peninsula starting from the Gulf extending to Iraq and ending in Egypt, which makes it a major political role, as the recent tripartite summit agreed to push the three countries to strengthen their regional role in the region, and the success of transport projects Oil and the electrical connection would guarantee Iraq self-sufficiency in electricity, in addition to saving billions of dollars that the government previously pumped into the sector to no avail.(Both Iraq and Jordan seek to include Saudi Arabia in long-term future economic projects related to electrical integration with it, as well as the network extending from Egypt, with an aspiration to connect these countries to the Gulf network)
The American variant
Washington has played important roles in holding the tripartite summit and the Egyptian-Iraqi rapprochement that resulted from it, which the US administration wants to strengthen the Arab dimension in Iraq to balance Iranian influence .. Therefore, the goal of the United States in pushing it to rapprochement and joint projects is to try to bring about fundamental changes in the weights of Arab countries and their strategic value. Regional security .. What Jordan and Egypt have traditionally been doing regarding the Palestinian issue in what is silent in the new agreement no longer exists, while Iraq, which was one of the prominent regional powers, whether in the Iran equation or the Arab-Israeli conflict, is no longer in perspective. The new American is only an arena for a struggle for influence between the United States and Iran.
Between economics and politics
With the concerted indicators about the three countries' efforts, especially Egypt and Iraq, to form a new axis .. it seems that it will support the Gulf Cooperation Council and not compete with it; Rather, it adopts a policy of integration between them.
While it is possible to read some of Al-Kazemi's trends in forming a model similar to the old European model in regional integration, which was based first on the economic side of cooperation, then moved to the political side, and thus Al-Kazemi seeks to confront the internal crisis and violent polarization at home between Iran and the United States and the powers Supporting them towards creating regional "Arab alternatives", which is a good option provided that Jordan and Egypt are ready to provide this strategic depth.
As for Cairo, it does not seem seriously concerned with attempts to revive the "Arab East" and reshape the regional balance of power. Rather, it is thinking mainly about achieving economic interests and benefits from Iraq, while Egyptian interest in the Palestinian issue is declining, and the issue of the Renaissance Dam, which took a clear space in the summit statement, is overwhelming, or The Libyan case and the competition with Turkey with Sisi over any other regional files.
It can be said that Amman is about reshaping the role of the "ring countries", in order to restore consideration to the Kingdom's strategic position and its regional role, and to limit the process of deterioration and collapse in the Palestinian file.
The present absent "export of oil"
The attempt to encircle Iran remains - according to some observers - the most prominent indicator of the Egyptian-Iraqi-Jordanian rapprochement between them - as withdrawing the Iranian threat card is to close the Strait of Hormuz. The effective engine for the desired economic integration between Iraq and Egypt via Jordan ... through the transfer of Iraqi oil and then Saudi oil to the Red Sea through the port of Aqaba for Iraq, and the port of Yanbu for Saudi oil later, and dispensing with the passage of the Arabian Gulf.
Other analyzes - you read the Western and American dimension concerned with Israeli security - suggest that Iraq will be involved in a gradual process of normalization with "Israel", the first stage of which begins with entering into this trio of two states that recognize Israel, concluding oil agreements and unifying an international electricity network of which "Israel" is a part, then it will be A direct party in the export of Iraqi oil through Jordan and its port in Aqaba opposite the Israeli port of Eilat and the huge oil reservoirs in Israel, so that this initial and unannounced normalization with the passage of time and economic dealings would turn into full normalization and public recognition by the regime in Iraq, so that the "regional peace" project would be proposed The expected American after switching the roles of local players.
Here, one must not neglect the potential Egyptian desire to rely on a rapprochement with Iraq - and partly with Jordan - to document common relations and interests ... as an endeavor by the Egyptian regime to alter its external strategic alliances (a tactical maneuver that does not conflict with the intersections and special dimensions of the recent rapprochement)
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