Iraq’s Nujaba Urges Supporting Resistance in Push to Restore Country’s Sovereignty

29/06/2021

Iraq’s Nujaba Urges Supporting Resistance in Push to Restore Country’s Sovereignty

By Staff, Agencies

Iraq’s al-Nujaba Movement, part of the Popular Mobilization Units [PMU] or better known by the Arabic name as Hashd al-Shaabi, has called on all Iraqi institutions to throw their weight behind the resistance to restore the country’s sovereignty.

Nujaba Secretary General Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi issued the call on Tuesday, one day after US warplanes targeted three locations belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi in the border town of al-Qaim in Iraq’s western Anbar Province.

The US strike killed four Iraqi fighters who were performing their duties of preventing the infiltration of Daesh [Arabic for ‘ISIS/ISIL’] terrorists from Syria into Iraq.

Kaabi “invited all the military institutions to support the resistance in restoring the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and promised the evil occupiers that military resistance would have the final say on the battlefield and make Iraq proud.”

He also noted that the US targeting of the 14th Hashd al-Shaabi Brigade “proved that the [current] foolish US government is following in the footsteps of the former ignorant administration.”

“The evil occupiers should know that martyrdom is our path and we have performed the ablution of martyrdom in our burial shrouds for the great battle,” Kaabi said, stressing that the political strategy seeking the expulsion of US occupation forces has failed.

“Until the complete liberation of Iraq from your evil [presence], we will not retreat, we will not give up and we will respond twofold to any attack,” he warned the Americans.

The Nujaba chief further thanked the officials in charge of Iraqi checkpoints for facilitating the passage of the resistance fighters.

He also criticized the mercenaries who slander about pro-resistance individuals and institutions, saying, “Their prosecution will be near and heavy, and sooner or later they will be tried for their great crimes and treachery.”

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IRAQ SERIOUS CHALLENGES: THE US, IRAN, ISIS PLUS A “DIFFICULT TO FORM” CABINET.

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

Just at the time when the country is being led by a caretaker Prime Minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, and the newly elected Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhemi (boycotted by many powerful political groups) is struggling to form his cabinet, the terror group “ISIS” is increasing its attacks on a number of Iraqi provinces. The Shia majority has asked for the withdrawal of US forces while the Sunnis and Kurds want these forces to remain, and ask instead for the withdrawal of the Iraqi security forces al-Hashd al-Shaabi or “Popular Mobilisation Forces” (PMF). ISIS is testing the military readiness of the Iraqi security forces and is taking advantage of the severe domestic differences between all political parties, knowing that the country is also facing serious financial difficulties and has a pandemic to deal with as well. The country is in crisis and the pressure is overwhelming.

ISIS is aware of the presence of security holes in various parts of Iraq, particularly around the Hamrin mountains in Salahuddin province, Jurf al-Nasr (south of Baghdad) in Babil province, Jalawla and Baqubah in Dyala province, in Karbala province, wadi Houran, along the Iraqi-Syrian borders in the al-Anbar province. Since a month ago ISIS has been harassing the security forces, mainly the PMF, and engaging with them to test their readiness- and exhaust their resources. It is also establishing fake checkpoints with men dressed as members of the Iraqi Army who arrest and kill tribal men.  This is happening in the Sunni areas, whose political leaders are asking the PMF to leave their provinces and for the US to remain in Iraq. The US, with perfect timing, has ceased its intelligence collaboration with the Iraqi forces 

ISIS knows the desert and the mentality of the people living in these provinces. It also seems to be aware of the cessation of collaboration between the US and the Iraqi forces, where the Iraqi drones are insufficient to cover these provinces and collect enough intelligence information about ISIS’s movement and intentions. Thus, Iraqi forces have turned from a preventive stance to a defensive one, while ISIS moves from being the hunted to become the hunter in many provinces. It is common knowledge that the Iraqi forces have difficulties controlling the 599 km long border between Iraq and Syria, where ISIS crosses with its major forces and equipment. 

Many ISIS militants somehow managed to escape from a Syrian prison run by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US partner, in the north-eastern city of Hasaka, a prison that held some 11,000 to 12,000terrorists captured on the battlefield. The escapees seem aware of the existence of a meeting point to join other groups still on the loose between the two borders. According to Iraqi intelligence sources in Baghdad, many of these joined sleeper cells in different provinces; some were killed and captured by the Iraqi security forces during the latest attacks.

ISIS is capable of surprise attacks and insurgency but has failed to hold its new ground, notwithstanding the violence of its attack, the biggest since 2017. It has recently attempted to control the oil road east of Tikrit by isolating the north from the southern Tikrit city in Salahuddin province and attacking Mukeshefah and Samarra. ISIS aims to regain some control over financial resources (oil) and has been gathering forces coming overland and along the Tigris river. ISIS took advantage of the Federal Police presence—unfortunately, the Federal Police are unfit to fight against irregular militants as the well-trained counter-terrorism brigade or the PMF could. While many Sunni political leaders are asking US forces stay, many tribes in Salahuddin are asking the Prime Minister to send the Hashd PMF to their villages and cities as a permanent presence following the repetitive ISIS attacks. 

The list of the new Cabinet members in Iraq.

The assassination of the commanders Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis pushed Iraq to ask the US to leave the country. The US forces ceased intelligence collaboration and scheduled a meeting on the 6thof June to initiate a dialogue about the strategic relationship between the two countries- but not to organise total withdrawal. Following the Iraqi parliament’s binding decision to see the US forces out of Iraq, subsequent to Washington’s destructive decisions to violate Iraqi sovereignty and in contradiction with the agreement with Baghdad signed in 2014, these forces are no longer offering any support at all without political concessions from the Iraqi leadership. 

The Prime Minister asked Hashd al-Shaabi to intervene against ISIS due to its long experience in guerrilla warfare. However, Hashd lacks air cover due to the slow and inefficient coordination between its command on the ground and the Iraqi Air Force. This handicap is allowing ISIS to resist longer on the battlefield and contributing further to Hashd’s human casualties.

ISIS is playing on the US-Iraq and the US-Iran differences in Mesopotamia. It is also showing high military readiness and capability to fight back and exhaust the Iraqi security forces. However, Hashd al-Shaabi is also showing determination to defeat the group and force its withdrawal on multiple fronts. The Iraqi command needs to find non-US resources to regain the momentum, rely on its own resources to provide surveillance and armed drone support for its ground troops and intelligence services. Perhaps Russia and Iran can fill the vacuum the US is intentionally creating. Otherwise, Baghdad will indeed manage to repel ISIS, but with much greater human losses- unless it changes its classical approach and offers a new deterrence strategy, through spreading “eyes” in the sky in the “softest” areas, those where ISIS militants move at ease, and particularly on the Iraqi-Syrian borders and in al-Anbar desert. For that, the country needs a new and strong government- certainly not a caretaker Prime Minister with limited authority, and a novice Prime Minister unable to form an adequate cabinet and lacking political support from the MPs’ group leaders.

Mr Abdel Mahdi has ordered Hashd al-Shaabi – the security forces bombed repeatedly by the US air force and accused of being loyal only to Iran – to deploy its forces in the provinces where ISIS is most likely to enjoy a greater presence. Abdel Mahdi is aware that Hashd capacities and ideology make it fitter to confront ISIS than any other brigade. But Abdel Mahdi doesn’t want to remain in power and is looking forward to handing on the office to al-Kadhemi.

However, ex-Prime Ministers Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi refused to grant support to al-Kadhemi and his cabinet because some proposed names were not part of their consensus. Al-Kadhemi is accused of favouring the Kurds and the Sunni by accommodating their candidates but disfavouring the Shia by imposing names that are considered provocative and unacceptable to many groups. Al-Kadhemi is being asked not to choose names that are unsuitable to the Shia groups, to the street and to both Iran and the US. Decision-makers in Baghdad suggested that the new PM candidate asks all parties (Sunni, Shia and Kurds) to forward names of at least 3 technocrats or 3 politicians for each seat in the cabinet allocated to them (11 for the Shia, 6 for the Sunni, 4 for the Kurds and 2 for the minorities). If all those names are unsuitable for al-Kadhemi, he can ask for another batch of names. But what he can’t do – said the source – because this would fail to gain parliamentary support—is to choose technocrats from the Shia quota disapproved by many Shia groups, and other names of politicians as forwarded by the Kurds and the Sunni.

Furthermore, Baghdad lacks a strong government, yet the foreign debts and the low price of oil are adding severely to Iraq’s deficit. Iraq needs 80 billion dollars per year but has a revenue of less than 30 billion. In the midst of this difficult situation, the Coronavirus is adding more strain on Baghdad, and tensions between the US and Iran harm the country. Both countries are fighting their own war on Iraqi soil and each side wants the other out of the country. Hashd al-Shaabi is considered an enemy of the US and Israel and is essential for Iran for keeping the US out and, for Iraq, to protect the country from ISIS. The Shia are divided, as well as the Sunnis and the Kurds. And now, as the last straw, ISIS is increasing its attacks, taking advantage of this chaotic state. It will take a miracle for Iraq to be able to stand on its feet any time soon.

Proofread by:  Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

This article is translated free to many languages by volunteers so readers can enjoy the content. It shall not be masked by Paywall. I’d like to thank my followers and readers for their confidence and support. If you liked it, please don’t feel embarrassed to contribute and help fund it, for as little as 1 Euro. Your contribution, however small, will help ensure its continuity. Thank you.

Copyright © https://ejmagnier.com   2020 

THE RESISTANCE STRIKES THE US WHICH SEEKS A TRUCE IN IRAQ

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier:

New anonymous organisations in Iraq have threatened to strike US forces if they refuse to withdraw from Iraq. One of these newly emerged organisations released its first video of an attack against a US military convoy transporting vehicles on the road between the Kurdish province of Erbil and the northern Salahuddin province, where the US maintains large military bases.

US Ambassador Matthew Tueller has met with caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, expressing the will of his country to begin strategic talks with Baghdad. The US did not disclose that the US diplomat informed Mr Abdul-Mahdi about the US intention to pull out forces from Iraq and his request not to be attacked during the withdrawal of troops. Indeed, the US has already evacuated forces from 6 bases and centres of control in different places in Iraq. This is what prompted the Iraqi Kataeb Hezbollah (Brigades) to ​​announce particularly that the organisation does not intend to strike US forces as long as they completely withdraw from the country. 

However, the Iraqi resistance does not trust the US promises as forwarded to the Iraqi premier. It considers the US is manoeuvring to redeploy forces from the more vulnerable bases to more protected bases. This scepticism has caused new Iraqi resistance to surface, and provoked attacks against US forces in a manner reminiscent of the 1980s “Islamic Jihad” organisation in Lebanon, which was responsible for the kidnapping and killing of US officers and citizens.

The first newly emerged organisation identified itself as “The Revolutionary League” (Usbat al-Thaereen). In its first communiqué, it has shown drone images with excellent resolution of the US embassy in Baghdad in all its details, building, helicopters, movement of personnel and military forces inside.  What is striking is not only the fine details and high-quality of the drone footage but how a drone managed to fly for extended minutes over the most guarded buildings inside the Iraqi capital. Three brigades of the Iraqi army (6, 11 and 17) are deployed in the capital Baghdad along with the anti-terrorist force, the federal police HQ, the Ministry of the Interior and the local police. Most of these are based in the “Green Zone” where the US embassy is. US forces are also deployed at Baghdad airport (not far away) and inside the Embassy.

Not only that, but a second video was also distributed to the press a few days later with drone footage of the most extensive US military base in Iraq, at Ein al-Assad base in the Anbar desert. The video showed weapons stores, forces, buildings, command and control tower and base, hangars, landing and take-off runways and many more details of the entire map of the base. At Ayn al-Assad, the US deploys of the most sophisticated radars, Patriot missiles and other defence systems that are supposed to secure the base.

Moreover, the video had also been shot from outside the base, showing the driving of a car along the walls of the American base in Ain al-Assad, which indicates the ease of movement of the group without regard for the security measures deployed along the road.

The organisation broadcast an enthusiastic song stating its goal of avenging the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. The singer’s dialect indicates that he is not Iraqi, though clearly, the singer is a native Arab speaker.

Another new organisation called “The Islamic Resistance in Iraq – People of the Cave” (referring to Surat al-Kahf in the Quran) issued a video in which it showed an IED exploding in convoy carrying military vehicles and, one minute later, a second powerful IED explosion when the convoy personnel gathered to assess the damage. The convoy is said to be travelling from Kurdistan – Erbil to Salah al-Din Governorate, the Uwaynat region. This attack is a message for the US forces: they will not be able to roam as they wish in Iraq because for them the country is now insecure, as are their military bases.

A statement issued by a third new Iraqi organisation called “Islamic Resistance Factions – Iraq – the fist of guidance” accuses America of preparing to launch an attack against the Iraqi factions, and gives the American and British ambassadors 48 hours to leave, or they will be killed. It was not possible to confirm the authenticity of this  statement. 

It is to be expected that more organisations will emerge in Iraq, enjoying military, media and organisational skills and capabilities. These undoubtfully benefited from the long years of war in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel, in Syria against al-Qaeda and ISIS (The Islamic State), and in Iraq against the US during the 2003-2011 invasion and against ISIS following the occupation of a third of Iraq in 2014.

These organisations seek retribution against the US, which assassinated the leader of the “Axis of Resistance” Major General Qassim Soleimani, the field commander in the “Popular Mobilisation Forces” (PMF) Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, and which bombed several bases of the Iraqi army, its federal police and the PMF at the Syrian-Iraqi borders, al-Qaem, and destroyed Karbala Civil Airport. The US breach of the memorandum of agreement signed in 2014 exasperated Iraqi political, military officials and many other resistance groups.

The US Ambassador visited the caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to inform him about its decision to leave Iraq and proposes a large meeting next June to agree on the mechanism of withdrawal from Iraq. The ambassador asked Mr Abdul Mahdi to intervene to stop all attacks against American forces while withdrawing and to mediate with Iran to achieve this, because “America is serious about proceeding with the exit from Iraq.”

The Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, the League of the Righteous (Asaeb Ahl al-Haq), Al-Nujabaa Movement and the Imam Ali Brigades responded to the Iranian request to refrain from opposing al-Kazemi, despite their lack of trust in him and in the US intention to withdraw. These factions promised not to attack the US forces as long as the US shows they are withdrawing their forces from the country. Thus, the emergence of new organisations aims to offer an excuse for these groups, that they are not apparently involved in any attack and that they are “encouraging” the US to leave. These groups are unknown and new on the Iraqi scene. Therefore, it is easy for them to avoid pressure from the officials in Baghdad.

However, the style of these organisations reminds us of the “Islamic Jihad” organisation in Lebanon that emerged in the 1980s, was responsible for the kidnapping of hostages in Lebanon and worked directly under the command of Iran. It was not connected to Lebanese “Hezbollah” at the time.

It seems that the US has not read carefully enough the Iranian messages following the assassination of the Axis of the Resistance leader. When Sayyed Ali Khamenei said: “The price of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is the US departure from West Asia” this meant that the decision had been taken to force the US out whatever the cost.

Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon and of the “Axis of Resistance” in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, said “every American soldier is a legitimate target”. He wondered, when directing his question to the US following the assassination of Soleimani and Muhandis: “what have you done? Are you aware whose blood you spilt?” His message was clear: “Hezbollah will not stand idle and will target every US soldier.” Sayyed Nasrallah said explicitly: “Iraq is the battlefield”.

Driving the US out of West Asia is the goal. The methods used by the Iraqi resistance will not be different from methods used against Israel in Lebanon, in Syria and Iraq during the past decade. They will be employed until the very last US soldier leaves Iraq.

Proofread by: Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

This article is translated free to many languages by volunteers so readers can enjoy the content. It shall not be masked by Paywall. I’d like to thank my followers and readers for their confidence and support. If you liked it, please don’t feel embarrassed to contribute and help fund it, for as little as 1 Euro. Your contribution, however small, will help ensure its continuity. Thank you.

Copyright © https://ejmagnier.com  2020 

U.S. Demands Iraq Either Join U.S. War Against Iran or Be Destroyed

January 28, 2020

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

U.S. officials have now made clear that if U.S. forces become removed from Iraq as Iraq’s Parliament unanimously demanded and Iraq’s Prime Minister affirmed on January 5th, then the U.S. will try to break Iraq up into separate Sunni and Shia nations, and will also definitely impose sanctions against Iraq or (if Iraq becomes successfully broken up) against the Shia-governed portion of Iraq, in order to destroy Iraq (or the Shiite regions in Iraq) totally.

The U.S. is determined to separate both Lebanon and Syria (both of which are supported by Shia Iran) from Iran so that Iran will become internationally isolated unless and until Iran again becomes controlled by the U.S. Government as it was during the period from 1953 when U.S. imposed the Shah’s dictatorship there, till 1979, when Iranians finally took back control over their country and kicked out the U.S.-and-allied foreign oil companies.

By far the best international journalism about the situation today regarding Iraq has come from the Middle East Eye, which headlined on January 23rd, “US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes”, and sub-headed, “With Shia parties pressuring American troops to leave, Washington wants to create an autonomous region around Anbar to maintain its presence.” Their reporter in Baghdad, Suadad al-Salhy, stated that,

Backed into a corner and influence waning, the United States has in recent weeks been promoting a plan to create an autonomous Sunni region in western Iraq, officials from both countries told Middle East Eye.

The US efforts, the officials say, come in response to Shia Iraqi parties’ attempts to expel American troops from their country.

Iraq represents a strategic land bridge between Iran and its allies in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Establishing a US-controlled Sunni buffer zone in western Iraq would deprive Iran of using land routes into Syria and prevent it from reaching the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

For Washington, the idea of carving out a Sunni region dates back to a 2007 proposition by Joe Biden, who is now vying to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. …

The creation of a Sunni region has always been an option for the US. The Iranians cannot be allowed to reach the Mediterranean Sea or benefit from the land bridge connecting them to Hezbollah” in Lebanon, the former US official told MEE.

“The project is American, not Sunni. The presence of the American forces has been the guarantor for the Sunnis and the Kurds, so if the US has to leave Iraq, then establishing a Sunni region in western Iraq is its plan to curb Iran and its arms in the Middle East,” he added.

We are talking about establishing a country, not an administrative region.” …

The Arab Gulf states allied to US, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, support and finance this project, Sunni and Shia leaders and officials told MEE.

Funding is in place, international pressure is in place, and the necessary military strength is in place to create this region,” a prominent Sunni leader familiar with the talks said.

Neither Iran nor the Shia forces will be able to stand against the project because the US and Gulf states back it,” the leader added.

A huge amount of money and investment offered by the Sunni states is at stake, and these will turn the Anbar desert into green oases and rebuild the destroyed areas in Mosul and Salah al-Din. Who will care about oil?”

This is a war by U.S., Saudi Arabia, the other Arab oil monarchies, and Israel, against Iran, and it will become also a U.S.-v.-Russia war unless Russia complies with America’s demand to stay out, and not to defend Iran.

Anbar Province is one of two places where the fanatical Sunni ISIS was located in Iraq, the other being the city of Mosul directly to the north of Anbar. Both areas are so heavily Sunni so that in order for Iraq’s mainly Shiite government to become able to wage an effective war against ISIS in Iraq, it first had to convince Anbar’s residents that this would be something which would benefit all of Iraq and not only Shiites in Iraq. Fallujah and Ramadi, two cities where Iraq’s Government were especially trying to defeat ISIS   in 2014, are in Anbar Province. Until 2015, Iranian General Soleimani’s forces (all of them Shiites) were virtually the only effective forces trying to exterminate ISIS; and therefore, Iraq’s Government had to emphasize that killing ISIS was a patriotic, not a sectarian, matter. On 17 September 2016 U.S. President Obama bombed Syria’s army in the heart of Syria’s oil-producing region, the city Deir Ezzor, for Syria’s ISIS to move in and take Syria’s oil. During October through December 2016, two of Syria’s main enemies, Obama, and Turkey’s leader Erdogan, established a system to reinforce ISIS in Deir Ezzor, by supplying them ISIS fighters fleeiing from Mosul in Iraq’s north. On 11 December 2016, I headlined “Obama & Erdogan Move ISIS from Iraq to Syria, to Weaken Assad”, and reported that the U.S. and Turkey were offering a deal to fighters for ISIS in Mosul, a way to stay alive but not in Iraq. They would relocate west into Syria, so as to assist the U.S. and its allies to overthrow, or at least seize territory from, Syria’s Government. America’s war against Syria used basically three proxy-forces as boots-on-the-ground: Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Kurds — all three being Sunnis. The Sauds provided most of the funding for it, because the goal was to place Syria under the control of the Sauds. And the U.S. sticks by that goal. No matter how much the people in Syria oppose it. It’s not only Trump who is obsessed with this goal; Obama was, though he wasn’t as obsessed with destroying Iran as Trump is.

On January 24th, Middle East Eye’s Washington reporter Ali Harb headlined “At what point do US troops in Iraq become an occupation force?” and he took the most literalist approach possible to this question, in which the obvious answer should be “as soon as we invaded and occupied the country on 20 March 2003.” He got an answer from the U.S. Government, saying that “diplomatic notes, which are not public, remain the legal basis for the presence of about 5,000 American soldiers in Iraq today” and that “the letters contain a provision that gives US forces one year to withdraw after they are formally asked by Baghdad to leave.” So: if this U.S. Government, which has become infamous for violating its contracts (such as the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement), alleges that it can stay in Iraq for another year and yet still remain within the bounds of those “diplomatic notes, which are not public” — and which a supplicant Iraqi Government had allegedly consented to in 2014 — then Iraq’s Government will need to wait until 5 January 2021 before accusing the U.S. Government of violating that secret and coerced “1-year cancellation clause.” And, if Iraq’s Government is, at that time, still insisting that U.S. terminate its occupation of Iraq, then, Joe Biden’s 2007 plan will start being implemented, to break Iraq into its Shiite Arab southeast (friendly toward Iran), Sunni Kurd northeast (backed by U.S.), and Sunni Arab southwestern desert half of Iraq’s expanse (hostile toward Iran). There would be no more land-connection between Iran to Iraq’s east and Syria to Iraq’s west. For Iran, that would be like cutting off its two arms. Furthermore, Ali Harb noted that the Obama-Trump Administrations’ Pentagon official Brett McGurk said that “If the U.S. leaves Iraq, it means NATO, 20 western partners also leave.” McGurk was suggesting that Iraq without U.S. would become then again a U.S. enemy. The U.S. regime is determined to destroy, one by one, each country that tries to block U.S.-and-allied billionaires from taking them over. Here are two maps of Iraq, which show what trisecting Iraq would mean:

https://www.stratejikortak.

https://i1.wp.com/

So: Syria would be surrounded by U.S. allies.

According to MEE’s Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad,

Leaders familiar with the ongoing talks on partitioning Iraq said that Sunni politicians are seriously involved in the discussions and are waiting to see the demonstrations’ outcome before deciding on their path.

“The meetings are taking place in full swing, and all the Sunni leaders are attending. But they deny this publicly, waiting for the conditions that protect them,” a prominent Sunni leader familiar with the talks told MEE.

If the protesters are able to force through a national government that takes care of all Iraqi communities, then the Sunnis will reject any planned autonomous area, the leader said.

Failure to achieve this, he warned, would see Sunnis supporting the partition project en masse.

“Sunnis do not want to be part of the Shia crescent, and refuse to submit to Iranian control. So they will offer the Americans permission to build military bases in their lands, in exchange for the necessary support to establish the desired region.”

The Atlantic Council is NATO’s main PR organization. Ali Harb freported:

“We’re not at a point where the US and Iraq are enemies,” said Abbas Kadhim, director of the Iraq Initiative at the Atlantic Center think-tank in Washington. …

Kadhim, of the Atlantic Council, called for negotiating an American military withdrawal from Iraq in a way that would ease the tensions of the past few weeks and preserve the strategic partnership between Washington and Baghdad. …

Kadhim said the “knee-jerk reactions” that Baghdad and Washington have been displaying are not helpful.

“At the end of the day, the United States cannot impose its troops on Iraq. There’s no justification for keeping troops in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people, and it’s not in the interest of the United States to do that,” he told MEE. …

The US envoy for the Coalition against IS, James Jeffery, … also issued an implicit warning to Baghdad on Thursday [Jan. 23].

At a news conference, he said that if the US and Iraq were to negotiate a troop withdrawal, everything else would be on the table, including Washington’s diplomatic support to Baghdad.

“We’re not interested in sitting down and talking only about withdrawal,” Jeffery said.

“Any conversations that the Iraqis want to have with us about the United States in Iraq, we believe should and must cover the entire gamut of our relationship, which goes way beyond our forces, goes way beyond security.”

Kadhim said imposing sanctions on Iraq would be harmful to both nations and counterproductive to Washington’s stated aim of reducing Iranian influence in Baghdad.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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