US to deploy 1,500 troops in Middle East:

Iraq advocates sovereignty

US Army in Iraq
(Photo: Twitter/X)
In the ever-shifting dynamics of Middle Eastern geopolitics, the US has announced its preparations to deploy 1,500 New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers to military bases in Iraq and Syria. This deployment, marking the largest since 2008, is part of 'Operation Inherent Resolve (OIP),’ a military campaign initiated by the Global Coalition led by the US in 2014 to defeat Daesh.اضافة اعلان

Following the conclusion of the US invasion of Iraq in 2011, it withdrew its forces from the country, retaining only a few military advisors. However, with the invasion of large parts of Iraq by Daesh, which took control of Mosul, the second-largest city in the country, the Iraqi government sought assistance from the US. Consequently, Washington increased its forces to more than 5,000 soldiers, in addition to 2,500 coalition forces before scaling them down to 3,000 in 2021, and further down to 2,500 in 2022.

On January 14, at a farewell ceremony in the Cure Insurance Arena, Lieutenant Colonel Omar Minott, one of the 1,500 soldiers deploying to the Middle East for his fifth mission, shared with CBS News, “We have the people we need, we have the training that we need, we have the equipment that we need to fight and win.” In addition, New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy delivered a remark, stating, “By doing your part to support Operation Inherent Resolve, you are protecting peace and prosperity not only for our state, not only for our country but for the entire free world.”

Iraq’s call for sovereignty: navigating tensions, and advocating withdrawal of US troopsIn a firm call for sovereignty and stability, Iraq continues to advocate for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country. Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani reiterated his country’s resolute position on ending the US-led coalition, considering it crucial for the nation’s security and stability. Sudani further argued that there are no longer any justifications for the presence of the Global Coalition, as Daesh no longer poses a threat to Iraq.

This also comes as tensions escalate between US forces and resistance factions in Iraq, ever since the beginning of Israel's war on the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023, significantly driven by the unwavering support the US provides to Israel, which resulted in the killing of over 22,000 Palestinians in the strip.

In an expression of solidarity with Gaza,  the Islamic Resistance in Iraq conducted attacks on the coalition base at Al-Assad and Erbil airports in western Iraq. Furthermore, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that since October 19, 2023, US bases within Syrian territory have witnessed 94 attacks. For its part, the US has initiated airstrikes against ‘Iranian-backed’ groups in both Iraq and Syria.

Commenting on the situation, Sudani highlighted the importance of, “Starting a dialogue to reach an agreement on a timeline for ending the mission of international advisors.”

Prior to Sudani's statements at WEF, on January 4, the Pentagon reported the killing of the Leader of Harakat Al-Nujba, Mushtaq Talib Al-Saidi, also known as Abu Taqwa, in an airstrike that targeted central Bagdad, citing him as a threat. In addition, in a press conference, Pentagon press secretary Major General Patrick Ryder told reporters that the US forces that are part of the coalition continue to focus on the mission of defeating Daesh.

In response, the Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office posted a statement on X, formally known as Twitter, condemning the attack, describing it as a blatant violation and aggression against Iraq’s sovereignty, and holding the Global Coalition Forces responsible. Moreover,  Sudani stated that the government is in the process of forming a bilateral committee to arrange the withdrawal of Global coalition forces from the country.

Iraq has echoed such sentiments for years. In 2020, the Council Representatives of Iraq approved a resolution directing the government to actively pursue the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country’s soil. Subsequently, in September 2020, Washington announced downsizing its forces from 5,200 soldiers to 3,000.

US interest in maintaining military bases in Iraq
According to an article by David Pollock,  a Bernstein Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, one of the key interests in keeping its forces in Iraq is to foster friendly relations with the country, counter Iranian influence, and prevent Iran from exploiting Iraqi oil. Pollock also argues that the withdrawal of US forces would pose additional security threats to Israel.

It is also worth mentioning that in December 2023, the Senate rejected a bill presented by Republican Senator Rand Paul, demanding the withdrawal of the US troops from Syria. The majority of the Senate voted against the bill, with 84 votes, while 13 votes supported it. At that time, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, considered that passing the bill would be a ‘gift to Iran.’

Read more Region and World
Jordan News