Op-Ed: US refuses to discuss ways to withdraw from Iraq

Posted Jan 11, 2020 by Ken Hanly
According to a Washington Post report the Iraqi PM has asked for the US to devise a mechanism for withdrawal of its troops from the country.
US President Donald Trump has taken a harsh line against Iran  adding new sanctions
US President Donald Trump has taken a harsh line against Iran, adding new sanctions
The Iraq parliament passed the motion 170 to 0 but many Kurdish and Sunni members did not attend. The non-binding resolution read: “The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory. The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”
US reaction
The US has quickly shown that it will not cooperate in Iraqi plans to eject US and other foreign troops The US State Dept. has signaled that it is not at all willing to discuss a mechanism for US withdrawal according to a recent report: The State Department said in a statement Friday that the U.S. will not hold discussions with Iraq regarding American troop withdrawal from the country.“At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal, but our right, appropriate force posture in the Middle East,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.“There does, however, need to be a conversation between the U.S. and Iraqi governments not just regarding security, but about our financial, economic, and diplomatic partnership. We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq,” Ortagus added, writing that “America is a force for good in the Middle East.”"
It is hard to see how the US is a force for the good in the Middle East when it directly opposes a decision by a sovereign country. This is happening after the US assassinated a key official of neighboring Iran without getting permission from the Iraqi government. It also assassinated a key official of an Iraqi government militia group approved and financed militia. How can the US be for a sovereign Iraq when it has violated its sovereignty several times without even an apology? All the US says in its defense is that it has not received a formal request to leave. Yet it has a request to plan a mechanism for leaving that it refuses to discuss.
Letter suggesting the US would leave called a mistake
The Pentagon said that a letter sent to the Iraqi Defense Ministry saying that the US would leave Iraq was a mistake and that US troops would be remaining in the country. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Mark Milley: “That letter is a draft, it was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should never have been released." Yet the Iraqi PM insists that he had received the letter with a signature and had sought and received clarification about the translation. The issue just seems to have dropped off the mainstream news media with no explanation as to the contradiction except that it is clear that the US is not intending to withdraw voluntarily.
US threatened Iraq in response to parliamentary resolution
Trump responded angrily to
the Iraqi parliament resolution requesting that US troops withdraw:" We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.,..If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq."
Trump has made it clear that the US has no intention of leaving Iraq voluntarily. Given that the US is supposed to be in Iraq at Iraq's request the US may face a legal problem. Iraq could bring a case before the International Criminal Court(ICC). However, the US does not recognize and opposes the court. Iraq could find itself subject to further sanctions if it goes to the Court. In September of 2018 John Bolton announced a new policy toward the ICC: "In a September 2018 speech, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, announced a change in US policy toward the court and outlined several steps the US would take if ICC investigations reached US nationals or the nationals of US allies. In addition to travel bans, Bolton threatened prosecutions and financial sanctions against ICC staff, as well as against countries and companies assisting in ICC investigations of US nationals. He warned that the US would restart long-abandoned efforts to negotiate agreements with other countries against surrendering US nationals to the court and put other governments’ diplomatic, military, and intelligence ties with the US at risk if those governments cooperate with the ICC in investigations of the US or its allies."