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article imageOp-Ed: US expresses anger at Iraq's failure to defend US bases

By Ken Hanly     Mar 21, 2020 in Politics
Washington - The US State Department on Friday issued a statement declaring that they were enormously disappointed by the failure of the Iraqi government to protect US and coalition forces in the country.
The US responding to rocket attacks on camp near Baghdad
One rocket attack on Camp Taji last week killed one American soldier and a contractor as well as a UK solider. Iraq said it would investigate the attack. The US responded by several attacks on militia they believe may have been responsible for the attacks. The US mounted retaliatory attacks on those they thought might have launched the rockets before waiting for the Iraqis to complete any investigation.
Iraqis have asked the US to leave
The US described the militia targeted as Iran supported. However, they are part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) that are approved and financed by the Iraqi government, in effect part of their own forces.
The US has stressed that the US troops are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government mainly to help fight the Islamic State (ISIS). However, ISIS is mostly defeated and in survival mode. The US is not needed to meet the challenge of ISIS. Also, the PMF had been key fighters in the battle against ISIS. The US appears bound to stay in Iraq to try to lessen Iranian influence in the country.
However, in January the Iraqi parliament voted 170 to 0 to have all foreign troops leave Iraq. Trump responded by threatening to impose severe sanctions on Iraq if it tried to force US troops to leave. The US refused to discuss any withdrawal plans with Iraq.
Iraqi government in danger of collapse
US actions may provide more energy to protest movements against the government which is seen as incompetent, corrupt, and unable to resist US violations of its sovereignty. To side with the US after the US attacked its own security forces would most likely make the situation even more precarious for the government.
The government appears to be crumbling and is trying to get ready for new elections. Since the January vote to expel foreign troops two Iraqi PM have resigned, First Abdul Mahdi resigned but agree to serve as caretaker PM until a replacement was found. Next, Mohammed Allawi was chosen as PM designate but resigned after he was unable to form a government. Just last week Adnan Zufi was selected as PM designate.
US official warns Iraq
David Schenker, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs claimed that the present situation was a high point of contention between Iraq and the US. Schenker said: “it’s no secret that we’ve been, I think, enormously disappointed with the performance of the Government of Iraq in fulfilling its obligations to protect coalition forces, particularly American forces, who are in Iraq at the invitation of the government.”
Schenker warned that the Iraqi government is at a decision. He threatened that the US would take proactive action to defend its bases if the Iraqi government did not take action to hold those accountable for the attacks on US forces. There is no mention of the fact that the US has been asked to leave and that the forces the US holds accountable and attacked are de facto part of the Iraqi armed forces. The US has clearly violated Iraqi sovereignty in its attacks and has not waited for any Iraqi investigation. US actions are bound to arouse even more anger and protests and increase pressure on the Iraqi government to force to the US to leave.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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