Iraqi PM defends continued US troop presenceBreaking

January 16, 2023

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has defended the open-ended presence of US and other foreign troops in his country, in his first US interview since taking office in October. “We think that we need the foreign forces,” Sudani told. US and Nato forces have been training Iraqi soldiers on how to fight the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

Elimination of IS needs some more time, the prime minister added. His comments are significant as the parties that back him and control parliament are aligned with pro-Iranian factions and very hostile to the US. Iraq also depends on Iran for natural gas and electricity.

The United States has about 2,000 troops stationed in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi forces. Nato has several hundred troops there, also in a non-combat role. In the interview, Mr Sudani made clear he wants to get along with the United States, which is locked in confrontation with Iran.

He said he would like to send a high-level delegation to Washington soon, perhaps as a prelude to meeting with President Joe Biden. PM Sudani said Iraq wants to have good relations with both the United States and Iran. “We strive for that,” he said. “I don’t see this as an impossible matter, to see Iraq have a good relationship with Iran and the US.” He also faces a populace hit hard by an economic crisis and eager for a better life. His visit to Tehran in late November was marked by promises of stronger cooperation on economic and security matters.

Credit : Independent News Pakistan-INP