Name? Mustafa Al-Kadhimi
Westphalian identity? Iraqi
Why is he in the news? According to a report by the Financial Times, Iraq’s Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi has hosted delegations from Iran and Saudi Arabia for diplomatic talks in Baghdad. These are thought to be the first significant political discussions between the two nations since the 2016 storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in a row over Riyadh’s execution of a Shia Muslim cleric.
Why do we care? We always stress the importance of diplomatic meetings between all countries. No matter who talks, talking is always better than not talking. Especially when the topics are so important in the world such as the topics discussed during the meetings chaired by Al-Kadhimi: the war in Yemen and increased militia-isation in the region.
Why should you care? Do we really need to remind you about Yemen?! An essential part of the Yemen conflict is the Houthi rebels, a militia. With increasing instability in some Middle Eastern countries (i.e. Lebanon, Syria and Iraq) militias have gained importance and have also become increasingly difficult to control as proxies. Attempts to combat increasing militia-isation scores a 6/10 on our how much you should care scale.
Who else cares? US President Joe Biden. His obsession with reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal and his personal distaste towards MBS have brought Al-Kadhimi into this position. MBS is currently doing anything in his power to get on Biden’s good side, including cozying up to Israel, talking to Iran or releasing female rights activists. Biden’s actions and inactions are driving these efforts.
Any further comments? Al-Kadhimi is the perfect candidate to mediate between Shia Iran and Sunni Saud Arabia. The two countries are struggling for dominance in the region and religion. Iraq is historically closer aligned to Iran, however, Al-Kadhimi is said to be a personal friend of MBS. This unique position enables him to at least bring both parties to the table.