Amman and Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Sunday in what was his second official visit to a foreign country, to discuss a number of issues including the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the extension of an oil pipeline linking both states.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat Abadi and King Abdullah discussed the security situation in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province and the fight against ISIS there—in which the Jordanian military is involved as part of the international coalition against the extremist group—as well as a number of other issues including energy, Iraqi expatriates in Jordan, mutual investments, and outstanding Iraqi debts to Jordan.
An official press release from the Royal Hashemite Court said King Abdullah assured Abadi Jordan would support the Iraqi people in their fight to free their country from the clutches of terrorism, vowing that Jordan fully supported a “united Iraq,” whose security constituted a central “pillar” in the security of the region as a whole.
During an open meeting with his Jordanian counterpart, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Abadi said: “Our vision is to have a comprehensive relationship [with Jordan], linking together political, economic and trade interests, so that our political relations derive from these economic and trade relations.”
The two men discussed a number of joint projects currently underway. Most notably, they discussed an ongoing 18 billion US dollar project to extend the current pipeline linking both countries to the Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan, from which Iraq could supply the Hashemite Kingdom with more crude oil to help alleviate some of its chronic energy shortages. Iraq will also use the port to export oil to international markets.
Both sides also discussed measures to resume the supply of Iraqi oil to Jordan, which was halted at the start of the year after security began to deteriorate in Iraq after fighters linked to ISIS overran parts of Anbar province.
Abadi also met with some Iraqi expatriate tribal and community leaders originally from Anbar but currently residing in the Jordanian capital Amman, to discuss the presence of ISIS fighters in the province and efforts to rid it of them and allow Iraqi expatriates to return home.
Abadi’s trip to Amman marked his second official visit to a foreign country, coming a week after his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian leaders in Tehran last Monday.
Rafid Jabouri, a spokesman for Prime Minister Abadi, told Asharq Al-Awsat there would be no more international visits for the time being. He said Abadi’s visit to Jordan was not merely “part of a regional tour, since he will return to Baghdad as soon as the visit is over.”
He added that “the visit came as a result of a direct invitation from King Abdullah II during their attending the UN General Assembly in New York [earlier this month].”
“Abadi is totally open to wide-ranging relations with Arab and regional neighbors. We have no issues or problems with any particular country, so there is a genuine desire for us to coordinate with all countries and at all levels because we realize that the danger that everyone faces in the region is a single one: that of terrorism,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, efforts to combat ISIS continued in Iraq and elsewhere on Sunday and Monday. On Monday, Pentagon spokesmen confirmed that the US conducted airstrikes against ISIS targets in Zammar, Baiji, and Fallujah, as well as launching three attacks near the strategic Mosul dam.
ISIS also struck back after losing territory to Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga over the weekend. On Monday, a suicide bomber driving a captured Iraqi Army Humvee attacked a checkpoint in Jurf Al-Sakhar manned by army troops and members of a Shi’ite militia, killing 24 and wounding 25 more, according to reports.
Although no-one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the town, south of Baghdad, was recaptured by government forces from ISIS on Sunday, and the bombing carried all the hallmarks of an ISIS operation.
Hamza Mustafa contributed additional reporting from Baghdad.