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Iraq officially asks US to initiate troop withdrawal 

January 11, 2020 at 10:34 am

US soldiers in Iraq [The U.S. Army/Flickr]

On Friday, the Iraqi government asked Washington to formulate the mechanism for the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq.

The government of Adil Abdul-Mahdi called on the US administration to send delegates to Baghdad, to put in place a plan for the safe withdrawal of US forces.

The Iraqi request was made during a phone call between the head of the Iraqi caretaker government, Abdul-Mahdi, and US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

A statement by the Iraqi Foreign Affairs Ministry indicated that the two sides discussed the recent developments and the willingness of the various parties to prevent escalation and go to open war.

Abdul-Mahdi stated: “Iraq has rejected and still rejects all operations that violate its sovereignty, including the recent (Iranian) operation which targeted Ain Al-Assad and Erbil, and that the Iraqi authorities are making unremitting efforts and communicating with all parties to prevent transforming the country into a battlefield.”

The Iraqi parliament voted, last Sunday, on a resolution calling on the government to end the foreign military presence in the country. The government later announced that it was preparing legal and procedural steps to implement the decision.

This decision was taken following the deaths of the Iranian Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani, and the leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, in a US air raid near Baghdad International Airport a week ago. The parliamentary resolution came under pressure exerted by Iraqi protesters and prominent political personalities.

READ: What’s next after Soleimani’s assassination? 

Over 5,000 US soldiers are deployed in military bases throughout Iraq, as part of the international coalition to fight Daesh.

Abdul-Mahdi asserted, during the phone call with Pompeo, that: “Iraq is keen to keep the best relations with its neighbours and friends in the international community, and to protect the representatives and foreign interests, as well as all those who are inside Iraq.”

He pointed out that: “Iraq’s priorities are limited to combating terrorism, Daesh and violence, as well as implementing reconstruction projects, on the one hand; in addition to achieving economic growth, protecting the country’s sovereignty, independence and national unity, and establishing security and stability for Iraq and the region, on the other.”

Abdul Mahdi informed Pompeo that there are US forces entering Iraq and US drones flying in the Iraqi sky without the permission of the government, constituting a violation of the agreements in force. The US secretary of state promised to follow up on the matter and affirmed his country’s respect for the sovereignty of Iraq.

The two parties stressed, according to the statement: “The importance of sustaining the development of relations between the two countries.”

On Wednesday, Iran launched a missile strike on two military bases hosting US soldiers in western and northern Iraq, in an act of retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination.