US forces in Iraq between Obama’s wrong withdrawal decision, Trump’s permanence decision

Abdel Nasser al-Mahdawy

Translated by Shaimaa Shedeed

No one on earth can accept the occupation of foreign forces of great state to another states’ lands whatever the reasons are. The same stance must have been adopted when the US occupied Iraq in 2003 despite our opposition to the regime of Baath and former President Saddam Hussein. However, nothing worse than the US irresponsible withdrawal decision that came after the occupation drained the Iraqi state resources and delivered it to parties and entities incapable of keeping its peace. Consequently, Iraq has suffered sectarian and terroristic catastrophes resulted in hundreds of thousands of Iraqi causalities and millions of migrants from the governorates dominated by the terrorism. These governorates were destructed due to the war between terrorism and Iraqi Armed Forces.

After the US forces had finished its fighting operations in Iraq in 2010 and got into the trend of training the Iraqi forces, last US soldiers left the Iraqi territories on December 18, 2011 except some US soldiers stayed for securing the US embassy. Frank Halmik, a retired US General who participated in some missions in Iraq for several years including 2011 said “We left before achieving number of essential goals of trainings”, adding “The Iraqi Air Forces weren’t yet ready to defend the state and even to date”. “The Iraqi forces depended on the US arm in terms of intelligence support in order to keep pressuring the insurgents,” he said noting that such capability decreased due to the US support.

Today, eight years after the US withdrawal and the sectarian parties dominance over the Iraqi rule and after such factions’ failure to achieve any development with the political process, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mawloud Gawish Oglu said in a statement on November 7th 2019 in Washington that the reasons behind the problems the region was suffering was the withdrawal of the US forces from Iraq, accusing Washington of delivering Iraq to a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who marginalized the Sunnis, which resulted in the ISIS prominence. Oglu statement was in a press conference after a meeting of foreign ministers of member states in the International Coalition Against IS that was held in Washington.

According to the Turkish foreign minister, the source of problems in the Middle East is the withdrawal of the US from Iraq without any plan or coordination, describing the decision as a real mistake. “When Washington withdrew from Iraq, the state was delivered to Nouri al-Maliki who marginalized large Iraqi faction, thus, Iraq got into a chaos case of which ISIS made use and consequently dominated 40% of Iraqi lands.

Former US President Barack Obama cooperated with Iran since the early stages of his electoral campaign about which the newspapers said in 2008 “The campaign of Democratic Party Candidate in the US elections Barack Obama included a “political momentum” in dealing with the Iraqi crisis and included the dialogue with Iran and he said in a Congress session discussed the report of the leader of the US forces in Iraq David Petraeus “I think no way can get the situation stabilized but this way.” After the US withdrawal by the end of 2011, it was proved that Obama delivered Iraq to Iran on a silver platter and this point of view was unanimous on the US level and Iraqi one.

When the republicans took over the rule in the US by their candidate Donald Trump, Trump announced on October13, 2017 a new strategy in the Iranian file of seven factors included “neutralizing the Iranian government destabilization influence and as well restricting its aggression especially its support to the terrorism and armed militias, reactivating the US traditional allies and partnerships as a barrier against the Iranian destruction and restoration of forces balance in the region, preventing the Iranian regime specially the revolutionary guard  from financing its “pernicious activities” and  opposing the revolutionary guard activities which drain the Iranian people resources, facing the ballistic rockets and other weapons menacing the US and its allies and mobilizing the international community to condemn the revolutionary guard violations to the human rights and their siege to US citizens and other foreigners on trumped-up charges.

Today, the US President Donald Trump uncovered in abrupt statements on November 3d, 2019 that reasons behind the US military staying in Iraq was to watch Iran. In an interview with the CBS, Trump said that one of the motivations behind the US forces staying in Iraq that he wanted to watch Iran because it represented a real problem. In an answer to a question about if he wanted to be capable of striking Iran, he said “No, but I want to be capable of watching Iran,” adding that “Washington spent huge amounts on military base in a distinguished location in Iraq that will allow us to watch the unstable Middle East” in reference to Ain al-Assad base in Anbar, west of Iraq, that he visited last December.

In fact, Trump’s statement was embarrassing for the Iraqi government and those parties won in the last elections especially coalitions of Fath and Reform who refuse the foreign interference. Because of any Iraqi side disability to expel the US forces from Iraq, those coalition who kept claiming that they were capable of ousting the foreign armies resorted to that allegation of new formulation to overcome the embarrassment in front of Iraqi people. This was proved when Salam al-Shemary, Saeroun Coalition member uncovered a coalition between Saeroun and Fath  targeting forcing the government to identify number of US troops in Iraq and to not allow existence of any air or land bases inside the state.

Concerning the legal act relevant to the US forces existence in Iraq, there are some facts connect the US with Iraq after the withdrawal in 2011 especially the Strategic Frame Agreement (SFA) which stated that the termination of the agreement was after three years unless such agreement renewed as for the clause number 31: 1- This agreement is valid for three years unless it is terminated before the end of this period under paragraph 3 or unless both parties agree on its extension under paragraph 2.2, 2- This agreement shall be modified or extended with a written consent between both parties in accordance with the applicable constitutional procedures in both countries.

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Nizar Khairallah and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan held the fifth meeting of the SFA High Coordination Committee on Sunday and reaffirmed the great progress we have made under the SFA so far and laid the foundation for cooperation in the future, particularly in the political and diplomatic areas and trade and financial ones.  Thus, understanding between both countries is still there and there are some directions from the US to the politicians in Iraq and any statements of Iraqi senior officials are only for media show because any government in Iraq actually doesn’t have the right of free choice. Those ministers who are being changed aren’t in consideration, rather, real consideration is paid for those of senior posts in the supreme committee of the agreement.

Some news websites stated that the New Generation Block member Serkout Shams al-Deen expected a meeting between the People’s Assembly and the cabinet and some security leaders in order to discuss the US forces existence. Shams al-Deen affirmed that ties between Iraq and the US are very important and pours in both states’ interests on the economic, political and military levels. He explained that the existence of US forces currently isn’t deemed as occupation but their stay is under a demand from the Iraqi government. “They can oust them anytime” He said, underlining that threatening these forces by any neighboring state “is completely not allowed.”

At the meantime, the member of the New Generation block finalized his statements saying that he held meetings with his pillars in the Congress and foreign ministry in addition to some experts and searchers in the Middle East affairs in the US where they affirmed that what Trump said recently was a kind of chaos statements and didn’t represent the US policy and affirmed that the government always seeks for cooperation with its Iraqi pillars in terms of US forces existence and its future in Iraq. Such statement is nonsense amid movements of US troops on the Iraqi lands and imprisonment of some terrorists affiliated to ISIS and militia according to some news reports. Moreover, the US forces launched some air strikes for some groups affiliated to the IMIS on the Iraqi-Syrian borders according to some leaders in the IMIS. All such actions point to nothing but the US intention to stay in Ain al-Assad base because of its strategic location and because of its affiliation to a governorate not loyal to the Iranian project so that the US can watch any Iranian movement through its allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon to the Mediterranean sea.      

Leave a Response