On July 26th, a spokesman for Iraq’s Al-Nujaba movement, a part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) said the “resistance forces” will continue to target American forces regardless of their name being changed from combat forces to trainers and advisers.
“Regarding the US military’s presence, names and titles do not matter, and they will still be targets for the weapons of resistance under any title or attribute,” Nasr al-Shammari said in an interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen television network.
Al-Shammari noted that Iraq’s prime minister, defense minister, and national security adviser have all emphasized that the country does not need the presence of foreign forces as it enjoys ample defense capabilities.
He said when Iraq was badly in need of American troops and advisers, they were of no use and their presence was not a source of any benefit to Iraqis.
“The Americans are changing the title of their presence in Iraq to deceive the public,” he said. “What good can come out of changing the title of ‘occupier’ to ‘adviser’? American troops are present in Iraq; what difference does it make under what title and pretext their presence is defined?”
The remarks come while Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is scheduled to meet President Joe Biden on July 26th to push for a concrete timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.
According to the NYT, Pentagon and other administration officials say they will remove a small but unspecified number of the American forces currently stationed in Iraq, and by reclassifying on paper the roles of other forces.
Summing up the situation, the New York Times said al-Kadhimi will have a political trophy to take home to satisfy anti-American factions in Iraq and the US military presence will remain.
“We have told the American side to withdraw all foreign forces from Iraq. But the Americans say the Iraqi government has requested the keeping of foreign military forces,” al-Shammari said.
“I’m sorry to say this, but one of the two sides is lying, and it seems to me that the Americans are more credible,” he added.
Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein sparked controversy after he said Baghdad still required Washington’s help and called for maintaining bilateral security cooperation.
“We need to work with the International Coalition, led by the United States, against the terrorists of Daesh [ISIS],” Hussein said during a joint press conference alongside his US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on July 23rd.
“We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air.”
Al-Shammari said the Iraqi foreign minister’s remarks run counter to the approach of the country’s security authorities.
“Surprisingly, instead of referring to experts, the foreign minister speaks of Iraq’s need for American troops and advisers,” he said.
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