Iraqi PM quietly working to keep US troops in country


 

 

ARTICLE SUMMARY
Iraq’s caretaker prime minister privately does not want US troops to withdraw, several American and Iraqi sources familiar with the situation told Al-Monitor.

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister privately does not want US troops to withdraw, several sources familiar with the situation told Al-Monitor, though Adel Abdul Mahdi publicly backed a recent parliamentary vote that urged the Donald Trump administration to exit the war-torn country.

Despite calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to send an American delegation to Iraq to negotiate the withdrawal of US troops in a readout of a Friday call, Abdul Mahdi is trying to find a way to keep an American presence in the country while attempting to placate Iran-backed militia leaders who want to force 5,200 US troops out, a source familiar with the situation on the ground said.

Abdul Mahdi is attempting to “save face,” a former senior administration official told Al-Monitor. “He doesn’t want us to leave.” By demanding a US exit, the former official said, Abdul Mahdi is using “[the] only leverage he has.”

In a heated response to Abdul Mahdi’s statement on Friday, the State Department rejected the caretaker leader’s request for a plan for US troops to exit. “Any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

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Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/01/iraq-pm-abdul-mahdi-keep-us-troops.html#ixzz6AkGSHcXu

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