Selava Omar – Xeber24.net – “Agencies”
US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that US forces will leave Iraq without setting timetables, while receiving Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi for the first time at the White House in Washington.
This meeting comes with the increase in attacks against American targets by fighters loyal to Iran, in addition to the calls facing the Iraqi government to expel 5,000 American soldiers deployed in the country as part of efforts to combat militants.
“At some point, we will have left,” Trump said while standing next to Al-Kazemi in the White House, adding, “We have reduced (our presence) to a very, low level.”
“But we were withdrawing our soldiers from Iraq fairly quickly, and we are looking forward to the day when we do not have to be there, and hopefully the Iraqis will be able to act independently and defend themselves.”
Trump said military matters and oil projects in addition to development issues were on the agenda of his meeting with Al-Kazemi, who took over as prime minister in May.
Al-Kazemi said at the White House that he was “grateful” for the American support in the war against ISIS, which “strengthens our partnership for the benefit of our country.”
The US army withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving a small contingent to assume duties at the US embassy.
However, additional US forces were deployed in the country after a few years to support Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which launched a major offensive in the summer of 2014.
There is still strong opposition to the American presence among the pro-Iranian politicians and their supporters, especially after the United States assassinated the General in the Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, at the beginning of this year, in a blow that also killed the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Al-Kazemi told reporters in Washington that while the war against ISIS in Iraq ended, there was still a threat posed by the group’s sleeper cells.
With regard to the American soldiers, Al-Kazemi said, “Certainly we do not need combat forces in Iraq, but we need training, building our capabilities and security cooperation.”