U.S. faces trouble justifying presence in Iraq

Illogical presence

March 13, 2021 - 20:32

TEHRAN – With the Iraqi people and politicians ramping up their efforts to expel American forces from their country, the United States makes renewed efforts to concoct a plan to justify its illegal presence in the West Asian region, particularly Iraq. 

The U.S. has a relatively large number of troops stationed in Iraq that had been sent to the country allegedly to combat terrorism, namely the Daesh terrorist group, which occupied large swathes of western Iraq in 2014. 

Following the emergence of Daesh, the U.S. claimed that the main mission of their forces in Iraq was to fend off Daesh, although Iraqi leaders at the time of Daesh's emergence cast doubt on that mission. In fact, some of these leaders even accused the Americans of dereliction of duty for failing to help Iraq in the face of Daesh. 

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that the U.S. stopped short of helping the Iraqis during the war against Daesh, which had occupied large territories of Iraq when al-Maliki was ruling the country.

“Daesh has come [to Iraq] because they [Americans] stopped all types of military support to Iraq and undercut the foundation of the Iraqi army,” the former prime minister famously said. “Washington told the Iraqi delegation as long as al-Maliki is in power, they will not give weapons to Baghdad to fight Daesh. This is all while Iran and Russia have opened their arms depots to Baghdad in support of the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Forces [PMF].”

Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, also recently said that the U.S. created Daesh.

“It was America that created the Daesh and this has been acknowledged by the Americans themselves. It is not us who are making this claim. Rather, this has been acknowledged both by the one who created it and by the one who was his rival. They themselves created that group. And then they have built military bases in Iraq and Syria using the excuse that the Daesh is present in those countries and that they are going to fight them,” the Leader said in a recent speech on the occasion of Eid al-Mab'ath.

Pointing to some of the examples of the U.S. helping Daesh, the Leader added, “They provide Daesh with modern, advanced, media tools. They also give them money, allow them to sell Syrian oil, and tell them to use the money for their goals. At the same time, they claim that they are fighting the Daesh.”

With help from Iran, the Iraqis ultimately trounced Daesh and restored stability. They called on the U.S. to withdraw its forces from Iraq as their presence is of little help to Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament passed a law earlier last year obligating the government to pursue the withdrawal of American troops. However, the U.S. refused to respect the will of the Iraqi people and kept insisting on continuing its military presence in Iraq. 

Now that Daesh has almost completely disappeared, the Iraqis see no good reason for the continuation of the U.S. military presence. Therefore, they have called on the U.S. to withdraw its forces. Facing Iraqi opposition, the U.S. now struggles to find new justifications for its unsolicited military presence.

In the latest effort in this regard, the U.S. found a new justification for its presence: “Shia-backed militias.”

In a March 3 press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby accused these unspecified groups of firing rockets on the American forces in Iraq, adding that the U.S. remains focused on these groups. 

“We've long been open and honest about the threats that these -- that arise from these rocket attacks that are being perpetrated by some Shia-backed militia,” Kirby said, adding, “We're focused on these -- the Shia-backed militias that continue to put at risk and to continue to threaten our people and our Iraqi partners.”

Kirby’s clumsy claim drew criticism from critics including those in America. They called on him to clarify the exact meaning of “Shia-backed militias.” He couldn’t. Because there is no such thing as Shia-backed militias in Iraq. There are groups that are part of Iraq’s official armed forces that want the U.S. to withdraw its forces. Of course, some of these critics tend to falsely say that there are “Iran-backed militias.” But they are wrong too.  

Iran has said time and again that it has no military presence in Iraq. Instead, it only has an advisory role in Iraq and Syria. Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria is advisory and at the invitation of these countries. But “the Americans cruelly entered Iraq and Syria and established military bases,” the Leader lamented. 

The U.S. military presence in Iraq and Syria is not grounded in any logic and its futile efforts to cook up logic for it will only further expose the illogicality of the American presence in the region.