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Iraq Wants ‘Orderly’ Withdrawal Of ‘Destabilizing’ US Troops

Above photo: Reuters.

Baghdad has informed Washington of the need to start talks on establishing a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said on 10 January that Baghdad wants “a quick and orderly” withdrawal of US combat forces from Iraq.

Baghdad has not yet set a deadline, the prime minister said, but affirmed that the presence of US troops is “destabilizing.”

“There is a need to re-organize [our] relationship [with Washington] so that it is not a target or justification for any party, internal or foreign, to tamper with stability in Iraq and the region,” Sudani said, partly in reference to attacks by the Iraqi resistance on US bases.

The Iraqi prime minister has repeatedly said that Baghdad will neither accept foreign troops nor armed factions operating on its soil. Many of these resistance groups are represented within Sudani’s government in the political coalition of Shia factions known as the Coordination Framework (CF).

On 8 January, the CF held a meeting to discuss “support for the Iraqi government’s efforts to end the mission of the US-led coalition in Iraq.”

The spokesperson for the Iraqi prime minister, Dhia al-Nasiri, said on 9 January that Baghdad informed Washington of the need to begin negotiations to secure a withdrawal of US forces from the country.

The Iraqi government “informed the American side of the necessity of starting negotiations on a timetable for the withdrawal of international coalition forces from the country,” Nasiri told Arab World Press (AWP).

“A timetable is currently being formulated to reduce the number of coalition forces and foreign military advisors working in Iraq,” Nasiri added. “A higher military committee is scheduled to begin re-evaluating the country’s military and security situation, evaluating the capabilities of the Iraqi forces, and examining plans to enhance these capabilities.”

The ability of the security forces to confront what remains of the ISIS threat in Iraq will also be assessed, the spokesperson said. “These internal assessments will determine the course of negotiation regarding the withdrawal schedule of the international coalition forces, its details, the number and quality of forces, advisors, and the method of their withdrawal.”

Nasiri confirmed that the Iraqi government maintains coordination with Washington and the US army. However, he emphasized Iraq’s adherence to Sudani’s previous assertions that the country does not need foreign combat forces.

The comments by spokesperson Nasiri came a day after Iraqi President Abdel Latif Rashid told the country’s US ambassador, Alena Romanowski, that the US presence in Iraq must be limited to an advisory role.

On 5 January, Sudani said that the Iraq–US bilateral committee, established late last year, had started the process of scheduling the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

Just days later, Washington said that it does not intend to exit the country, and that it was unaware of any plans to do so.

The Iraqi resistance has been attacking US bases in Iraq and Syria on a near-daily basis since October. The attacks come in solidarity with the Palestinian resistance and also aim to hasten the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.

Washington has responded to these attacks with several violent air strikes on Iraq and its capital, violating the country’s sovereignty. Baghdad has condemned these strikes while also condemning resistance attacks on US bases.

In 2020, following the assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of expelling US troops from Iraq. The resolution specifically called for the cancellation of Iraq’s formal request for US military assistance against ISIS, which was issued in 2014.

Washington rejected the resolution and threatened to impose heavy sanctions on Baghdad.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build … We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it … We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” said then-US president Donald Trump on the same day as the Iraqi parliamentary vote.

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