image Photo: CENTCOM

ISIS still a threat to Iraq amid US withdrawal

A further 2,200 United States military personnel have been withdrawn from Iraq.

According to a statement by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the reduction leaves just 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. After saying that Washington wants to “ensure that the Iraqi security forces are well trained and our U.S. troops are doing a magnificent job doing just that,” she stated that “We believe that now is the time when we can make this drawdown, keep the country stable, because of the training that our troops have done.”

It is important to note that the latest pull out follows the handing-over of numerous military bases to the Iraqi Armed Forces, including the strategic Taji Air Force Base.

U.S. Army Col. Myles Caggings commented that the international coalition led by the United States “has invested $347 million here to improve the runway that helps the Iraqi army aviation. We’ve improved the infantry training facilities to help the Iraqi army and we have divested many millions of dollars of property and equipment to the (Iraqi) Ministry of Defense. The coalition has departed eight bases across Iraq in 2020, we’ve departed these bases because the Iraqi security forces are more capable than Daesh (Islamic State).”

Despite increased responsibility for Iraq’s Armed Forces to combat the radical Islamic organizations on its own soil, a spokesman of the joint US-Iraqi Operations Command asserted that Baghdad will continue to cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition. “Our relations will continue with the international coalition” in “combating terrorism,” said Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, saying that other ongoing operations include “training and the development” of Iraqi “capabilities,” as well as “the armament of our forces.”

In related developments, French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to assist Iraq amid concern over the resurgence of Islamist Jihadism and U.S. military scale back. During an official visit to Baghdad last week, the French leader said, “Iraq has been going through a challenging time for several years, marked by war, terrorism, and I think you are at a critical moment of this story, as you are aware. The fight against Daesh is not over, even though we have defeated the territorial caliphate, Daesh fighters are still here, in the region, on your land and the fight against Daesh (Islamic State), in which France has invested so much in the framework of the international coalition, is ongoing. So, we will continue to act by your side, respecting Iraqi sovereignty in the framework of the international coalition – the struggle goes on.”

Macron also acknowledged that, “the second challenge is that of multiple foreign interferences, whether they are from years ago or more recently and which, in a country faced by all the challenges you mentioned, are interferences that can weaken even more your government, the state and the people’s interest.”