With violence in Iraq at its lowest level since the 2003 invasion, it is well established that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government has begun to assert an increasing level of independence. It seems this is not limited to negotiating better terms for its Status of Forces Agreement governing the 150,000 plus US troops still in Iraq.
Unveiling a plan at a Washington DC conference, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said it was time for the region to think of itself entering a new era, with Iraq playing a more assertive role.
The plan called for a “Regional Economic Partnership” including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, with Iraq at its heart. The bloc would lift barriers to trade, integrate security, and share energy across its members. Dabbagh said informal discussions have already been held with Syria, Kuwait and Turkey, and said Iraq hoped to “convert the region into the EU model.”