| 22 April 2024, Monday |

US military presence in Iraq destructive, will not promote stability, security: Iran president

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the military presence of US forces in Iraq will not help restore stability and security to this country.

Rouhani made the remarks in a Monday phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, during which the Iranian chief executive lauded Iraq’s positive mediatory role, as an important member of the Arab League, in the resolution of differences among regional countries.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani questioned the US military presence in Iraq, saying Washington is playing a dubious game in its so-called fight against terrorism, and described US activities on the Iraqi-Syrian border as “ambiguous.”

“Americans have always played a destructive role in the regain and their presence in Iraq will not contribute to stability and security in the country,” Iran’s president said.

Following a first “strategic dialogue” between the United States and Iraq under President Joe Biden, the two sides announced in a joint statement in April that they have agreed on the withdrawal of “all” American combat troops from the Arab country’s soil, but they did not provide a timeline, with Washington attributing the prospect to sufficiency of the Iraqi military’s combat capability.

The US had taken all of the forces out of Iraq under former president Barrack Obama. The same American commander-in-chief, however, flooded the country with military forces again in 2014 as part of a Washington-led coalition under the pretext of battling the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh.

The terror outfit had emerged amid the chaos and sectarian violence that had resulted from the 2003-then US-led military intervention.

Obama’s successor and Biden predecessor, Donald Trump, took down the number of the forces to 2,500 by January 15. Many, however, downplayed the drawdown as a gesture aimed at boosting Trump’s re-election chances that he would very likely reverse if he was chosen president again.

However, the chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, Falih al-Fayyadh, in May denounced the destabilizing role of US troops in the Arab country, saying the Americans are targeting Iraqi forces instead of supporting them.

He urged the Iraqi government to call for an end to the US military mission as it had previously requested their presence.

Rouhani told the Iraqi prime minister that the “Daesh terrorist group is still a major security threat in the region” and stressed the importance of strengthening Tehran-Baghdad cooperation to confront the group.

He pointed to attacks by rioters on Iran’s diplomatic missions in Iraq and called on the Baghdad government to give a “decisive and rapid” response to such incidents.

The Iranian president also hailed Iraq’s stance on the Palestinian issue and its condemnation of the recent crimes committed by the Zionist regime in the occupied lands and Gaza.

“We expect Iraq, given its position in the Arab League, to make efforts to make it (the organization) play a more active role in  [the resolution of] the Palestinian issue,” he said.

Over the past weeks, tensions have escalated in Jerusalem al-Quds amid acts of aggression by Israeli troops and settlers, and the planned expulsion of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the occupied East al-Quds, where illegal Israeli settlers seek to take over the properties of Palestinian families.