Iraqi PM advisor slams US ambassador nominee’s comments

Dilan Sirwan

Jun. 17, 2024 • 3 min read
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Security policies advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Sudani, criticized US Ambassador nominee Tracey Jacobson for her comments on Iran-backed militias and their influence in Iraq.

Statements made by the US President’s nominee for ambassador in Iraq portray a lack of understanding and insult Iraq’s neighbors, an advisor to the Iraqi PM said on Sunday.


“We listened to the hearing session of the candidate for the position of US ambassador to Iraq, and it included a clear lack of understanding of the new, recovering Iraq, interference in its internal affairs, and insults to its neighbors,” Khalid al-Yaqobi, Security Policies Advisor to the Iraqi PM, said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).


Yaqobi’s tweet came after Tracey Jacobson, US President Joe Biden’s nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq, addressed the senate’s committee on foreign relations last week.


“We recognize that the primary threat to Iraq’s stability and sovereignty are the Iran-aligned militias. These groups receive weapons, training, and other support from Iran, and use their arms and cash to promote Iran’s influence over Iraq,” Jacobson said.


“If confirmed, I will use the full range of U.S. policy tools to counter these malign groups and stem Iran's influence,” she added.


Jacobson’s statement was directed at several Iraqi armed groups, some of which are incorporated into the official Iraqi security forces, which the US has sanctioned for their alignment with Iran.


Several Iraqi officials, including the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), are sanctioned by the US for their ties with Iran.


Yaqobi further slammed Jacobson’s statement, claiming that it violates the job description of the head of the diplomatic mission in Baghdad.

“The nominated woman must be aware of the clear fact that some of what she spoke is not compatible with the tasks of her new job, and that her expected mission is defined by clear international agreements and treaties,” he said.

Though Jacobson is yet to be confirmed as Ambassador, her nomination and statement comes as the Iraqi government seeks to shift the nature of their relationship with Washington.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani’s cabinet has engaged in several rounds of talks with the US, especially as part of the global coalition, to end the coalition’s mission in the country and shift towards bilateral ties, a point that was reiterated by Yaqobi.


“We look forward to a performance that strengthens the good relationship between the two countries, especially since we are heading towards bilateral relations that preserve the great sacrifices made to defeat terrorism,” he said.

Attempts to end the global coalition’s mission solidified from the Iraqi side following US attacks on bases and facilities belonging to PMF, targeting leaders and members of the group.


Following an attack in early February that killed two officials from the Kataib Hezbollah armed group, which is officially incorporated into the Iraqi armed forces, Iraq’s top military spokesperson Yehia Rasool said that the Iraqi government’s will to end US presence in the country is now “more than ever”.

Though the US has on multiple occasions claimed that the global coalition is in Iraq upon the invitation of the Iraqi government to help and train Iraqi troops in the fight against ISIS, and claims that troops remaining in the country serve an advisory and training role, it has always remained a serious question whether the Iraqi armed forces are now able to defend Iraq in case of a new insurgency. 

The Iraqi government has on several occasions said that the threat of ISIS is no more and therefore there is no need for foreign troops to remain in the country.

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Author Dilan Sirwan

Dilan Sirwan is an Erbil-based Kurdish journalist covering Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. He focuses on political, economic, and social issues.


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