Iraq

Iraqi parliamentarians outraged by US decision to review troop drawdown

Iraqi parliamentarians serve fiery responses to a decision coming out of Washington to review the previous US administration’s plan to draw down the number of American forces in the Arab country.

Iraq’s Arabic-language Baghdad Today news agency reported the reactions that were issued by MPs Hassan Shaker al-Ka’abi, head of the Badr parliamentary bloc, and Mukhtar al-Mousavi, representative of the Fateh Alliance, to which Badr is affiliated, on Wednesday.

The US’s new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during his confirmation hearing last week that he was to reexamine the plan announced by the administration of former president Donald Trump for reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan each to 2,500.

Aside from throwing hopes of the drawdown into question, Austin’s remarks also flew in the face of a decision by the Iraqi parliament last January for all the US-led troops to leave the Iraqi soil. The legislature passed the law following the US’s assassination of top Iranian and Iraqi anti-terror commanders, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike in Baghdad.

The Iraqi lawmakers insisted that the parliamentary ratification had to be implemented at the end of the day.

Ka’abi said the legislative body had made its final decision in this regard, and referred to the Iraqis’ millions-strong rallies in the aftermath of the assassinations to protest Washington’s gall to resort to such barbaric atrocity in violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty and the international law.

Mousavi said the parliamentary law was definitive and the Biden administration had to understand this.

Iraq does not need American or any other foreign forces on its soil, he said, urging Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government to act on the law regardless of the Biden administration’s position.

Austin’s spokesman John Kirby, however, defended Washington’s revisiting of the troop level decision, saying, “It stands to reason that the incoming administration will want to better understand the status of operations in both places and the resources being applied to those missions.”

He also cast serious doubt on any speculations that Washington had finally begun to listen to those protesting its motto of trying to “defend America” by deploying troops thousands of miles away from America’s own borders.

“Nothing has changed about our desire to defend the American people from the threat of terrorism, while also making sure we are appropriately resourcing our strategy,” Kirby added.

Ka’abi warned likewise that Joe Biden’s succession after Trump did not mean that Washington had either stopped wishing the Arab country and its resources ill or shuttered its regional projects, including providing support for the Israeli regime.

“The US is hopeful of and has set its eyes on sustaining its presence in Iraq,” he said.

The lawmaker, meanwhile, expressed regret that “Iraq’s troubles and Daesh elements’ movements [there] are the result of the US presence.”

“We are certain that Daesh is America’s creation and functions at its behest in this country,” he added.

The Takfiri terror group of Daesh started its attacks in Iraq in 2014, creating an excuse for the US and scores of its allies to significantly ramp up the Western-led military presence in the country.

The Western states retain their presence there, although, Baghdad and its allies defeated Daesh in late 2017.

 

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