Iraqi PM: Relationship with U.S. key amid Middle East conflict

April 22, 2024

Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani calls for a new era of bilateral relations between the two nations based on mutual benefit and mutual respect

Key Takeaways: 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, which continues to reel from the Israel-Hamas war as well as Iran’s recent attack on Israel, at a recent event held at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center.  

“What happened Oct. 7 is a very dangerous turning point, and the repercussions are still coming out,” he said referring to Hamas’s attack on Israel last year. “We support all efforts that calm down the situation and that … do not inflame these struggles.” 

Al Sudani, whose remarks were translated live, argued that Iraq, which has a diplomatic relationship with both Iran and the United States, is well positioned to help stem rising discord across the Middle East. Although Al Sudani called the unprecedented aerial attack by Israel against the Iranian consulate in Syria “very clearly a diplomatic assault against any international law,” he added  that his government attempted to dissuade Iran from its recent military action against Israel, but these efforts failed. 

The prime minister also warned against further conflict: “Without the halting of what’s going on in Gaza, the region is at the doorstep of a dangerous escalation, and no party will be able to intercept what is about to happen,” he said. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani and SAIS Dean James Steinberg. Image: Kaveh Sardari

Al Sudani’s visit to the Hopkins Bloomberg Center was part of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies’ Dean’s Speaker Series, which brings a broad range of prominent leaders and policy practitioners to the school every year for insightful perspectives and discussions of international issues, leadership, and other relevant topics. The prime minister’s trip to Washington, D.C., came during his first U.S. visit since he took office in October 2022 and included a meeting with President Joe Biden.  

At the Hopkins Bloomberg Center event, Al Sudani said he hopes his visit opens a new chapter for bilateral relations with the U.S. that is less focused on politics and more focused on people—and education. 

“The political relationship between nations can be victim to changing tides,” he said, “but the relationships between communities and people is everlasting and strong, whatever the politics and climate might be.” 

That’s why Al Sudani says one of his top priorities is to revitalize higher education for young Iraqis both throughout his nation and through partnerships with universities such as Johns Hopkins.  

“One of the most important things of this generation … is they are very proud of their Iraqi identity, their country, their history,” he said. “This is human capital, and this is a very crucial point we are concentrating on in the government to achieve all the goals in developing our nation.”