Trump Offers Aid in Phone Call with New Iraqi Prime Minister
US President Donald Trump offered aid to Iraq during a phone call with newly minted Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, whose swearing-in last week ended nearly six months of political gridlock in Baghdad. Iraq’s economy has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and a severe drop in oil prices, which have plummeted by about two-thirds since the beginning of the year. The Iraqi government derives approximately 90% of its annual revenues from the export of crude. President Trump and Kadhimi are scheduled to meet in Washington next month to discuss all aspects of the bilateral relationship, in addition to Iran’s heavy influence projected through political allies and Shi’ite paramilitary proxies in Iraq. In a show of support for Kadhimi, the State Department announced that it would grant Iraq a 120-day waiver – a much larger window than the repeated 30-day extensions previously given – to continue importing Iranian electricity and gas, upon which Baghdad remains dependent even as the government simultaneously rebuilds its own energy infrastructure devastated by years of war. The prospective meeting also comes on the backdrop of growing discontent among Iraqi lawmakers and the public regarding the ongoing US military presence in the Middle East nation.