Muhammad Shia al-Sudani has already set an example with the appointment calendar.

The new Iraqi head of government deliberately chose Berlin as the destination of his first trip to the West.

Before the visit, Sudani had made it clear in an article for the FAZ that he wanted to expand the partnership with Germany – and emphasized that Baghdad wanted to benefit from Germany in key areas of its government program: fighting corruption and economic development.

Helen Bubrowski

Political correspondent in Berlin.

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Christopher Ehrhardt

Correspondent for the Arab countries based in Beirut.

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"Sudani is an experienced government politician and he is pragmatic," says one of his advisers.

"He has a mind of his own and does what he thinks is necessary to achieve his goals." This includes expanding an energy partnership with Siemens to help counteract the constant power cuts in Iraq.

Even before the first pictures of Sudani with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier were circulated, there were reports that Siemens would sign a corresponding declaration of intent with Iraqi Electricity Minister Ziad Ali Fadel.

It is about the construction of conventional power plants, the expansion of renewable energies and the stabilization of the power grid, wrote the Reuters news agency.

A welcome cooperation partner for gas imports

During a joint appearance with Sudani, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he hoped the agreement would be implemented "quickly".

Scholz assured his guest at the joint press conference in the Chancellery on Friday afternoon that Germany would continue cooperation with Iraq.

This is not only in Iraqi but also in German interest.

Scholz and Sudani also discussed the possibility of gas supplies from the country.

"Iraq would be a very welcome cooperation partner for us when it comes to importing gas and oil to Germany," said Scholz.

Gas imports could also be forwarded to other European countries via Germany.

In view of the gas reserves in Iraq, Sudani is hoping for German investors in this sector.

"Iraq has the chance to open a new chapter in history," said Scholz, praising the new Iraqi government's plans to push ahead with economic reforms in order to create jobs and growth.

These are "ambitious goals that we support," said Scholz.

They also talked about human and women's rights.

In the tension between Tehran and Washington

At home, however, the situation for the Iraqi head of government is complicated.

Not only does he always have to keep an eye on the encroaching neighbor Iran, which can fall back on a network of influential politicians and heavily armed proxy militias in Iraq, but also on the Americans, who are hostile to Iran.

As soon as the discussion about the desired expansion of the energy partnership with Siemens started, the question arose as to whether this would alienate the American competition.

In the roughly two and a half months that Sudani and his team have been in office, the regime in Tehran and the leaders of its shadowy Iraqi empire have made it clear that they do not intend to loosen their grip – on the contrary.

Either with attempts to publicly appropriate Sudani, or through pressure to publicly position themselves in their favor, for example on the anniversary of the violent death of Qassem Solaimani.

The notorious string puller of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was killed in 2020 by an American drone attack on the premises of Baghdad Airport.

The toxic offer of a joint tribunal in the Solaimani case recently came from Tehran.

The fight against corruption, which Sudani is committed to, is also a delicate matter.

"Corruption is so ingrained in the current political system that it has become a system," writes Iraqi expert Sajad Jiyad in a Century Foundation report.

Representatives of the political class, which treats the state like a self-service shop, helped Sudani into office, not least the hated former prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.

The population is upset and impatient.

Sudani can use any help in this matter.