Macron warns against ISIS as Afghanistan overshadows Iraq summit

French President Emmanuel Macron listens to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi during a joint press conference at the Prime Minister’s office in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on August 28, 2021. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the threat of Islamic State (ISIS) poses ahead of an Iraqi summit on Saturday overshadowed by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and a deadly bombing in Kabul.

Organizers have been tight-lipped on the agenda of the summit in Baghdad, but the meeting also comes as Iraq tries to establish itself as a mediator between Arab countries and Iran.

“We all know that we must not lower our guard, because Daesh [ISIS] remains a threat, and I know that the fight against these terrorist groups is a priority of your government,” Macron said, after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad, where a summit of Middle East leaders begins at midday.

“Iraq’s stability is essential” Macron added, describing the summit as “historic”.

Iraq and France “are key partners in the war against terrorism,” Kadhimi replied.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah arrived in Baghdad to participate in the summit.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum are also due at the summit.

Iraq seeks to play a “unifying role” to tackle crises shaking the region, sources close to Kadhimi have said.

Oil-rich Iraq has been caught for years in a delicate balancing act between its two main allies, Iran and the United States.

Iran exerts major clout in Iraq through allied armed groups within the Hashid al-Shaabi, a powerful state-sponsored paramilitary network.

Baghdad has been brokering talks since April between US ally Riyadh and Tehran on mending ties severed in 2016.

Macron aims to highlight France’s role in the region and its determination to press the fight against terrorism, his office said.

The French president considers Iraq “essential” to stability in the troubled Middle East, it added.

An ISIS affiliate claimed Thursday’s suicide bombing in Kabul that killed scores of people, including 13 U.S. service members.

The attack has revived global concerns that the militant group, which seized swathes of Syria and Iraq before being routed from both countries, is emerging anew, AFP cited analysts as saying.

“These events show that it has become more urgent than ever to back the political process in Iraq and involve its neighbors,” a source close to Macron said.

“A solution to security threats in the region, including Daesh [ISIS], depends on a stable, sovereign and prosperous Iraq,” the source added.

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