US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed Monday that all Iraqi leaders have informed him of what he described as special councils because they support the American military presence in their country, despite public calls for the departure of American soldiers from Iraq.
Pompeo, whose ministry often refuses to release details of his contacts, said what he had heard during talks with nearly 50 Iraqi officials since early January ran counter to what they publicly announced.
In response to a question during a symposium at Stanford University, the US minister said, “They will not say this publicly. But they in private councils all welcome the presence of America there and its anti-terrorist campaign.” Pompeo stressed that American soldiers are working to ensure that the Islamic State does not return and “provide the Iraqis with an opportunity to gain the sovereignty and independence that most Iraqis want.”
At the colloquium in which former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice participated, Pompeo said he had spoken to leaders of all affiliations in Iraq, including Shiite leaders.
But the US secretary also indicated that the United States will work with Iraqi leaders to “determine the most appropriate place” for the deployment of American forces in the country, and Pompeo added, “In the end, a solution will be found to put our forces inside Iraq and we will work with the elected leaders in Iraq to determine the location.” the appropriate”.
Last week, the Iraqi parliament voted on a resolution demanding to “end the presence” of foreign forces in the country, after the air strike in which the commander of the Qods Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Authority, were killed near Baghdad.
Suleimani was assassinated by the United States on January 3, after a series of missile attacks targeting the American army and an attempt by demonstrators from pro-Iranian factions to storm the US embassy in Baghdad.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Iraq if his authorities decide to remove the 5,200 US soldiers.
Last week, the US Secretary of State rejected an invitation extended to him by resigned Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to send a delegation to discuss withdrawing American soldiers from Iraq.
A tour of Ein al-Assad base
Meanwhile, the American forces in Iraq organized a tour for a number of media outlets and news agencies at “Ein al-Assad Base” days after being subjected to an Iranian missile strike that caused material damage without human casualties.
The American “CNN” station quoted soldiers as saying that they had received signals of an imminent attack, and they moved quickly towards the hideouts established during the era of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, while a few soldiers were evacuated from Al Qaeda.
The US forces said they were not sure of the ability of the Al Qaeda hideouts to withstand Iranian missiles. The missiles hit the soldiers’ homes and other facilities, according to the photos. American soldiers began to immediately remove the effects of the destruction, and rearrange the situation inside the base.
During the waves of Iranian missiles that fell on Ein al-Assad base, soldiers gathered in hideouts for hours for fear of the escalation of the conflict, he told the French press, the top American commander in the base, describing the attack as “unprecedented.”
During the interview at the air base, Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Garland said that his chiefs had given him “a few hours of advance warning” that an attack would happen on the night of January 7.
“My first reaction was shock and disbelief at first,” Garland said, questioning at the time Iran’s ability or willingness to launch a missile attack on al Qaeda. He pointed out that placing these forces in a safe place was an act of quick thinking and coordination between the leaders of the army and the air forces in Ein al-Assad. “How did we survive? It was a miracle from God,” Garland added.
|A spokesman for the al-Najaba movement revealed that Sadr movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr had held talks with Shiite factions close to Iran to form a front to remove US forces from Iraq (Reuters)|
The threat of a bloc and factions
The American statements came at a time when the Al-Fateh coalition bloc in the Iraqi parliament Monday threatened a military escalation against the American forces if it did not respond to the Iraqi decision to leave the country.
Al-Fath is the second largest bloc in parliament (47 out of 329 seats), and is led by Hadi al-Amiri, and it consists of political arms for armed Shiite factions such as the Badr Organization, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and the al-Najaba Movement, and the head of the bloc, Muhammad al-Ghabban, told state television that the Iraqi government is required to take measures To end the presence of foreign forces in the country, especially after the recent House of Representatives decision.
Al-Ghabban added that any delay or deterrence by the American forces will lead to a popular escalation and military confrontations against them, warning against destabilizing the region and damaging the relationship between Baghdad and Washington.
In the context, a spokesman for the Iraqi Al-Nujaba Movement faction, Nasr al-Shammari, revealed that Sadr movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr had held talks with Shiite factions close to Iran, calling itself the resistance factions, to form a united front to remove the American forces from Iraq.
Al-Shammari said in statements carried by the official Iraqi news agency, Monday, that Sadr met in the Iranian city of Qom with representatives of most of the Iraqi resistance factions, headed by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Brigades of the Master of the Martyrs, the Nujaba Movement and the Peace Brigades.
He added that the assembled parties agreed to coordinate efforts and form a united front in order to completely and finally remove US forces from Iraq. Shammari said that the Iraqi resistance factions gave an opportunity and a period he did not mention to the government and the parliament to end the foreign presence through diplomatic and political methods.
Source: Al-Jazeera + agencies