Ex-US Envoy Believes American Troops Won't Leave Iraq Anytime Soon Despite Ending 'Combat Mission'
© AP Photo / Spc. Zoe Garbarino U.S. Army, soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria (File)
© AP Photo / Spc. Zoe Garbarino
Last month the US declared an end to its "combat mission" in Iraq, but has yet to announce plans to carry out the will of the country's parliament and withdraw its troops in full. In fact, Washington has not removed any of its remaining 2,500 troops from the country since ending the mission.
American troops won't be withdrawing from the Middle East, including Iraq, former US ambassador to Syria and Algeria, Robert Ford has opined in an interview with Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. He stressed that it would be ridiculous to think that Washington would make such a move in the foreseeable future.
"The American forces are not leaving Syria and Iraq in the near future. The Americans are keeping their bases in the [Persian] Gulf region in countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, the American navy continues to operate in the [Persian] Gulf and near the Arabian Peninsula", Ford said.
The veteran diplomat further pointed out that neither of the last two US presidents actually fulfilled their pledge to withdraw troops from the Middle East. Ford noted that the situation is unlikely to change in the years to come, although he called the recent declaration of ending the "combat mission" in Iraq something "new".
At the same time, the former envoy suggested that the influence of Russia and China will be growing in the region, noting that the US is "no longer the single superpower" and that the White House is now seeking ways of sharing "responsibility for stability" with regional allies.
Ford's prediction coincides with the warnings of various militia leaders in Iraq, who insisted that the declaration of ending the "combat mission" changes nothing for the country and that foreign troops, including from the US, will continue their stay. The US maintains some 2,500 soldiers in Iraq, while the rest of coalition powers keep another 1,000. Formally, they remain deployed to oversee the training of local forces and advise Baghdad.
5 January, 06:41 GMT
Washington thus continues to defy the January 2020 non-binding motion passed by the country's parliament. Following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi territory, its parliament passed a motion demanding an immediate evacuation of all foreign forces from the country.
American troops are also stationed in Syria, where they had been illegally deployed without a UN Security Council mandate or an invitation from Damascus for several years now. Washington claims that they are "keeping the oil" from falling into the hands of terrorist remnants. Damascus insists that the US is simply stealing the country's natural resources.