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Mustafa al-Kadhimi during a summit with the leaders of Jordan and Egypt. Photo: Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is attempting to organize a summit at the end of August that could get his neighboring rivals around the same table for the first time in years.

The big picture: Stuck between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Iraqi government is trying to turn that difficult situation to its advantage and help reduce tensions and mediate regional understandings.

  • The initiative follows the attack on the Mercer Street oil tanker, comes amid increasing Houthi attacks against Saudi Arabia, and with a new Iranian government taking office at a crucial moment for the 2015 nuclear deal.

Kadhimi’s initiative builds on the secret talks between Saudi and Iranian intelligence officials that began this spring in Baghdad.

  • Those talks focused on Yemen, but Kadhimi wants to broaden them to include more regional issues and upgrade the dialogue to the political level.

Driving the news: Earlier this week, Kadhimi sent invitations to Saudi King Salman, Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

  • On Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein visited Tehran and presented an invitation to President Ebrahim Raisi.
  • Kadhimi also extended an invitation to French President Emmanuel Macron, who accepted.

What’s next: The summit is expected to take place during the last week of August, though it's unclear if all of the leaders will attend.

Go deeper

Oct 25, 2021 - World

U.S. and allies plan next moves if Iran won't resume nuclear talks

Rob Malley. Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty

The Biden administration is discussing potential next steps with partners in the Middle East and Europe if Iran doesn't return to negotiations in Vienna, U.S. Iran envoy Rob Malley told reporters in a conference call on Monday.

Why it matters: Talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June, and the Iranians continue to say they need more time to prepare to reenter the negotiations. In the meantime, Iran’s nuclear program is making significant advances, with uranium enrichment levels moving ever closer to the 90% grade needed to produce a nuclear weapon.

What the initial UN Climate Summit attendance list reveals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The UN Climate Summit set to begin Oct. 31 in Glasgow will bring an unprecedented combination of leaders for such an event (even Pope Francis!), and the likely absence of vital players — notably Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Why it matters: The speeches and backroom meetings at COP26 between leaders on the summit's first two days will set the tone for the rest of the gathering. These will be moments when countries showcase any new pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Paris Agreement's targets.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.