Iraqi Political Groups Reportedly Seek to Forge Bloc in Push to Drive US Forces From Country
© AP Photo / Ali Abdul HassanU.S. soldiers stand guard during the hand over ceremony of Qayyarah Airfield, Iraqi Security Forces, in the south of Mosul, Iraq early Friday, March 27, 2020. Iraq's military on Thursday said at least two rockets hit inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq's government and home to the American Embassy, in the first attack following a brief lull in violence from earlier this month.
© AP Photo / Ali Abdul Hassan
Washington and Baghdad agreed in July that the US combat forces will be withdrawn from the Middle Eastern country by 31 December 2021, with the remaining American personnel only remaining to play "a training, advising, assisting, and intelligence-sharing role."
A group of Iraqi political parties has called for the formation of an alliance to push American forces out of the country by the promised 31 December deadline, Press TV reported, citing Fadel Jaber, a member of the Sadeqoun coalition in Parliament.
According to Jaber, the prolonged presence of US forces in the country risks creating divisions in Iraqi society. His comments come as several observers reportedly voiced concerns that Washington actually has no intention of leaving the Middle Eastern nation.
Among them, according to the report, is political analyst Mohammad Karim al-Saedi, who pointed at Washington's decision to install C-RAM air defence systems at military bases housing American troops as evidence of America's intention to remain in Iraq.
“We might be witnessing a sharp escalation of tensions within the coming days as part of efforts to drive US forces out of the country,” he said.
Earlier on 25 November, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) told the Iraqi News Agency that foreign combat forces will leave Iraq within 15 days, with only some of the personnel remaining to support Iraqi forces. It was also indicated there were no plans to extend the US withdrawal deadline.
However, many appear to be sceptical about the assertion.
Nadhum al-Jubouri, an Iraqi political analyst at the Arab Forum, told Xinhua that "there would be no real withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, neither after 15 days nor the end of the current year," suggesting that US forces would simply rebrand in order to stay in the country.
"The Americans want to deceive Iraqis by saying that their troops' presence is part of the international coalition to fight the extremist Islamic State (IS)* group, and sometimes by changing the name of the missions of their remaining forces from combat to training and consultation," al-Jubouri said.
The sceptical sentiment comes despite assurances by both Washington and Baghdad provided in July that all US combat forces will be withdrawn from the country by 31 December 2021. The statement by the US and Iraq, however, also noted that "the security relationship will fully transition to a training, advising, assisting, and intelligence-sharing role," triggering concerns that the changes will come in name only.
20 November 2021, 19:19 GMT
Some Shia militants have blasted the US-Iraqi withdrawal agreement, insisting on a full withdrawal of the US forces from the country.
The United States forces were present in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 before returning in 2014 to combat the rise of the Daesh terror group. Currently, the number of American troops stationed in the country is estimated to be some 2,500.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia and many other states