A second impression emerges from local testimonies: Iraq is waiting for Europe. Seen from Baghdad, only Europeans can counterbalance Iran's omnipresent influence, and the fluctuating presence of the United States, whose aspired role is unclear, and can play a role in the region in the medium term. Russian influence in Baghdad is neither perceived as stabilizing: Moscow's interests in Iraq, according to Russian experts' own admission, are limited to the fight against terrorism and energy (exploitation and transport of oil that is abundant in the subsoil of southern Iraqi territory).
Where the Saudi-Iranian balance of power takes the form of a zero-sum game, European influence, perceived as politically neutral from Baghdad, is therefore welcomed, in line with cooperation already underway in the fields of water, energy, infrastructure, education, governance and reconciliation dialogue. Europeans are also distinguished from other external powers - including China, which is obviously omnipresent in the economy - by its commitment to the rule of law and democracy, and its interest in civil society. A fact that is rare enough to be highlighted in the Middle East, Member States are not divided by divergent interests. They could exert more pressure for a greater involvement of the European institutions (neither Mrs Mogherini nor any Commissioner visited Baghdad after the Kuwait conference in February, which mobilized international contributions for post-Islamic state reconstruction).
If they agree to invest resources in Iraq, Europeans have now a window of opportunity in that country to develop a coherent plan, where the United States and Russia, despite their resources, may lack a long-term vision. One could even imagine that their role in defending the nuclear agreement with Iran is worth enough credit to Tehran to encourage Iran not to overplay its role in Iraq.