U.S. Iraq meets after pro-Iranian forces threaten to block Iraqi Prime Minister’s ears

Baghdad — The 2,500 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq since the inauguration of the Byden administration will continue their training and advisory role for Iraqi security forces, U.S. and Iraqi delegations say Iraq’s third round strategy He said on Wednesday after calling for negotiations with the US and Iraq.

According to the joint statement issued According to the two countries, “the transition from combat operations of the US military and other international forces to ISF training, equipment and support reflects the success of their strategic partnership.”

The ongoing partnership “guarantees support for ISF’s continued efforts to ensure that ISIS never threatens Iraq’s stability again,” the statement read.

During the meeting, the two countries emphasized the need for ongoing security cooperation in the region to counter ISIS.

“The U.S. military is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government with the sole purpose of supporting the Iraqi army in a campaign against ISIS. Of course, the campaign remains important and continues,” the government said. I am. Said..

The discussion was attended by Iraqi Foreign Minister Huad Hassan and his delegation, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Under Secretary of State David Hale, and representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby Said On Monday, the United States shared Iraq’s goal of having security forces that could defend Iraq’s own sovereignty and deny terrorist groups from using Iraq as an operational base.

“The coalition continues to support its Iraqi and Syrian partner forces by advising on air support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and the sale of conditionally-based equipment,” he added.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hud Hassan said in a statement during the meeting that Iraq still needs US assistance in relation to training, armament and military advice.

Negotiations, which were effectively held for a pandemic, began in June under the Trump administration. Wednesday’s round, the first round under President Joe Biden, focused on a range of issues, from Iraq’s energy security to ongoing anti-terrorism measures.

Shiite factions and Iranian-faithful militias are lobbying Iraqi politicians and threatening leaders in the hope that US troops will leave Iraq altogether.

Last week, local Iraqi militias loyal to Tehran threatened Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadimi and demanded that US troops be expelled from the country. A heavily armed Shiite convoy ran openly through Baghdad, accusing the United States of threatening Arkadimi. This is an exhibition that clearly tried to undermine the prime minister.

Furious Arkadimi called on Iranian leaders to subdue Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and suggested confronting pro-Iranian factions, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday. In the memo, Arkadimi threatened to “clearly announce who supports these groups,” officials said.

According to senior Shiite politicians in Iraq, the message was sent this week by Ismail Kani, chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Kudforce, to visit Baghdad for two days, where he met with militias and Shiite political leaders. I called for calm.

Two Iraqi officials and all Shiite politicians were not allowed to speak to reporters, so they spoke on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi pro-Iranian factions have been louder and more violent in their efforts to expel domestic Western support forces, which were visited by General Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last year, resulting in his death. At that time, Shiites passed a non-binding resolution calling for an end to the US military presence in Iraq.

Iraq has also seen dozens of rocket attacks on Allied bases around Baghdad over the past few years, believed to be the work of pro-Iranian militias who triggered counterattacks by the Allied and U.S. forces. ing.

Iraqis feel that they are split between the United States and Iran’s allies. For example, Tehran is demanding billions of dollars to supply important gas and electricity to Iraq. Iraqi officials say money is idle in Iraqi trade bank accounts due to fears of US regulation and sanctions.

The Biden administration last month granted a 120-day sanctions exemption for Iraq to continue importing energy from Iran. This is the maximum time frame allowed. Waiver renewals under Trump were often shorter and more conditional.

However, Iraqi authorities have abandoned a complex payment system designed to circumvent US sanctions on transactions with Iran and demanded US generosity to repay Tehran directly for significant energy imports. It states that.

Iraq relies on Iran’s supply for one-third of its electricity demand, especially during peak summer months. Power cuts in payment issues sparked fierce protests in the southern provinces of Basra in the summer of 2018. Iraq is planning a national parliamentary election in October, so there is a strong need to avoid anxiety.

Iraq can now indirectly pay Iran in several ways. You can pay for humanitarian goods and medicines, cancellation of Iran’s external debt, the cost of the Iranian embassy, ​​the cost of Iranian companies operating in Iraq, and the cost of pilgrimage to Iran’s Thete Sanctuary.

During the talks, the United States expressed its continued support for Iraq’s energy independence, given its current dependence on Iran.

“The U.S. delegation reaffirmed that U.S. companies can support this diversification by investing in projects that create jobs, improve public services, and support the development of the country’s energy resources.” I read the statement.

“The United States has expressed support for Iraq’s efforts to reform the electricity sector to help its people have cheaper, more reliable electricity and reduce electricity shortages. The two countries, including promoting a power network interconnection project. , Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council confirmed support for diversifying Iraq’s energy sources by strengthening relations with neighboring countries. “

Brigg, a spokesman for the Iraqi army. General Yahya Rasool said after the talks that Arkadimi had ordered the establishment of a committee to hold technical talks with the US to approve the “mechanism and timing” associated with potential military relocations.

“Based on the growing capabilities of the ISF, the parties have shifted their U.S. and Allied missions to focus on training and advisory missions, thereby relocating the remaining combat units from Iraq. We have confirmed that it will be possible, and will be established in future technical consultations, “the joint statement read.

Kirby said the statement did not represent an agreement to initiate further withdrawal of US troops.

The Trump administration supported the withdrawal of US troops from areas like Iraq, saying some would remain to support Iraqi troops.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.