Iraq's Foreign Minister Infuriates Shia Militia Groups by Claiming Baghdad 'Needs US Troops’
Coalition forces remain in Iraq despite the fact that last year, the country's parliament voted to end the presence of all foreign troops in response to a US drone attack near Baghdad International Airport that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Iraqi Shia militia groups have hit out at the country's Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein over his recent statement about the importance of US forces staying in Iraq.
On Friday, the Iraqi Resistance Coordination Committee, an umbrella group comprised of Iranian-supported Shia factions, underscored the need for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.
“We stress the resistance [committee]’s conditions not to allow the presence of any foreign military personnel on Iraqi soil. The pullout of foreign occupying forces must be done completely from all Iraqi territory in order for the process to be real”.
The committee also said that it will not allow the presence of any foreign soldier in their country under any 'pretext' such as "trainers and advisers or [to provide] air support”, slamming the US and international coalition forces for proving to be "a complete failure" in Iraq.
© AP Photo / Ali Abdul HassanIn this March 27, 2020 file photo, U.S. soldiers stand guard during the hand over ceremony of Qayyarah Airfield, Iraqi Security Forces, in the south of Mosul, Iraq.
In this March 27, 2020 file photo, U.S. soldiers stand guard during the hand over ceremony of Qayyarah Airfield, Iraqi Security Forces, in the south of Mosul, Iraq.
© AP Photo / Ali Abdul Hassan
The same tone was struck by Qais Khazali, the secretary general of the Shia militant and political organisation Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, who argued that Hussein’s remarks were “very unfortunate and unacceptable” for all those Iraqis who are proud of their military and security institutions.
“Everyone knows that this issue is not related to the interests of Iraq, but linked to the interests of the Israeli regime, which considers Iraq and the Iraqis its number one enemy”, Khazali asserted.
Ammar Hakim, Iraqi Shia cleric and head of the political coalition National Wisdom Movement, voiced hope that the Iraqi delegation's negotiations with the US would first of all focus on taking into account Baghdad’s interests.
“The Iraqi delegation should hold the negotiations in such a way that they will bring about a constructive and stable agreement. The talks should lead to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and focus on security, economic and cultural cooperation between Baghdad and Washington”, Hakim pointed out.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Calls for US Troops to Help Baghdad ‘in the Air’
The comments come after Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told the Wall Street Journal that Baghdad needs “to work with the International Coalition, led by the United States, against the terrorists of Daesh*.
“We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air”, the top Iraqi diplomat stressed.
Earlier, media reports claimed that senior US and Iraqi officials are expected to issue an announcement in the immediate future that will call for the removal of American soldiers from Iraq by the end of 2021. The reports also argued that both Iraqi and American officials are currently in talks regarding than the US troop withdrawal.
US Military Presence in Iraq
The US has maintained a troop presence in Iraq since March 2003, when tens of thousands of American forces were deployed as part of a larger effort to oust former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein under a pretext that his regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, which was never found, though.
Although the US forces were withdrawn from Iraq under the Obama administration, they were eventually redeployed in 2014 to tackle the Daesh terrorist group.
On 3 January 2020, top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike on his car near the Baghdad International Airport, an attack that was authorised by then-POTUS Donald Trump. Shortly later, the Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a bill stipulating the expulsion of all foreign military forces led by the US from Iraq.
*Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a spate of other countries