Minister of Defence Jüri Luik was in Iraq this week to meet the country´s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki, the Defence Minister Najah al-Shammari and discuss the situation in the Middle East and recent developments in Iraq and Syria.
Luik also met the Estonian troops serving in the country and the military leadership of NATO Mission Iraq and Operation Inherent Resolve.
‘The demonstrations in Iraq and developments in Syria over the past few weeks have definitely changed the situation in the entire Middle East,' Luik said. ‘We need to take into consideration the fact that the United States plays an important role as a balancer in the region and the vacuum created by their departure from Syria will be filled by someone else, such as Russia,’ Luik added.
At the meeting, the Iraqi Prime Minister called on European countries to assume greater responsibility for security in the region.
Iraq appreciates the contribution of Estonia to the training of its forces and, according the Prime Minister, small countries such as Estonia have an important role to play.
According to Luik, Estonian troops in Iraq have a considerable advantage when it comes to training Iraqi forces, as Estonia has experience in restoring our own armed forces from practically the ground up. ‘Iraqi armed forces still have a long way to go. Regardless of that, they are the primary force that has been able to keep Daesh under control,' Luik said.
Luik also met with Major-General Dany Fortin, Commander of the NATO Mission Iraq, and Major General Gerald Strickland, the Deputy Commander of the United States led Operation Inherent Resolve as well as the Estonian contingent serving as part of the operation.
Minister of Defence Luik was accompanied on his visit by Major General Martin Herem, Commander of Estonian Defence Forces.
Estonia is contributing in Iraq to the United States led international military operation Inherent Resolve with a six member training team and one senior officer, who are currently serving as part of a multinational military-strategic team advising Iraqi ministries and security forces.
Photo: Minister of Defence Jüri Luik Wednesday met with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi al-Muntafiki.
More information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee