The US is considering cutting off military aid to Iraq if the government of Baghdad decides to expel US troops from the country, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Wednesday.
The WSJ revealed that it had reviewed emails between the State Department and the Department of Defence, in which they discussed cuts of $250 million in military aid to Iraq, in funds approved by Congress, in addition to other military and economic aid cuts.
According to the WSJ, the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs plans to ask the White House Office of Management and Budget whether it can eliminate the $100 million request for the fiscal year of 2021, “due to current optics on the ground.”
In one email cited by the WSJ, the State Department announced that a final decision had not yet been made, but senior administration officials have ordered a review of funds that may be held or reallocated, if Iraq decides to ask US troops to leave the country.
A State Department official disclosed that the US is: “Constantly reviewing our assistance to ensure that it aligns with our policy objectives and makes best use of taxpayer dollars.”
The State Department has recently threatened to block Iraq’s access to its main account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could undermine the country’s already fragile economy.
Iraq receives around $3.7 billion in aid from the US, including $250 million to support Iraq’s purchases of US defence equipment, help to fund other Iraqi acquisitions, training efforts and to build defence institutions.