Analysts: Iraq Opens Airspace To Russian Jets With U.S. Consent
Iraq has allowed conditional opening of the country's airspace to Russian fighter jets after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday (August 16) confirmed the move.
Local political analysts believe this move should have got a tacit consent from the Americans, as the United States and Russia are seen beefing up their cooperation in Syria.
"The United States is in cooperation with Russia in Syrian battlefields. The Iraqi government has opened its airspace to Russia with American consent," says Dr. Watheq al-Hashimi, Iraqi political analyst.
Some analysts have argued that Iraq also has its own interests to safeguard in the move of opening airspace to Russia.
"There is a strategic deal between Iraq and the United States and Iraq has played a positive role in the U.S.-led international anti-terror coalition. And Iraq should not ignore Russia, because Russia has deeply involved itself in the fight against extremism in Syria," says Dr. Ehsan al-Shimary, another Iraqi political analyst.
But these analysts would not go further as to speculate the possibility that Iraq should allow Russia to use its ground bases in its anti-terror campaigns in Syria. They believe that the United States still dominates the U.S.-Iraqi relations and would not allow Iraq to venture that far.
"But the Iraqi government doesn't want to send the world a message that Iraq is aligning with Russia and Iran, because that kind of a message will affect Iraqi relations with the United States, regional states, Arab countries, and Gulf states in particular," says al-Shimary.
Though already allied with the United States, Iraq looks to have been sandwiched by the U.S.-led coalition and anti-terror campaign front pooling Russia, Iran and Syria. This is because Iraq itself has been harassed by extremist groups in the northwest of the country.
Local analysts therefore believe that Iraq should not take sides so long as both the coalition and the campaign front are all fighting terrorists who have been menacing the interests of Iraq as well.