By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The subject of whether US troops should remain in Iraq once the Islamic State (IS) is defeated in Mosul is raising questions and fueling controversy among Iraqis.
On March 26, the Iraqi government officially announced it favors the idea of some US forces staying. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a Fox News interview that he supports retaining enough US troops to support Iraqi forces in a post-IS Iraq.
“We are concentrating on training, logistical support, and intelligence cooperation and gathering; these are three important elements for which I think we need some US troops to stay in Iraq to continue the task,” he stated.
It appears that parliament’s Security and Defense Committee has information that work has already begun on some US bases. Committee member Majid al-Gharawi told Al-Monitor, “The US troops, present in Iraq in rising numbers each day, are meant to stay in Iraq.”
Gharawi, a political representative of the Sadrist movement, not surprisingly opposes the idea. “American forces in Iraq will be met by resistance at the hand of Iraqis. Any foreign military presence on Iraqi soil will not be tolerated,” he said.
Jaafar al-Moussawi, the spokesperson for Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr, concurred. He said, “Any continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq, whether they are American or not, without agreement by the Iraqi parliament is considered an occupation. Hence, it will face resistance by the Sadrist movement or the rest of Iraqis, as the movement’s stance on a US presence hasn’t changed.”
Before his interview on Fox, Abadi wrote a piece in The Washington Post March 23 saying he had met with US President Donald Trump earlier in the week. “My country needs more help from the US,” he wrote. “President Trump and I discussed how to build upon the Strategic Framework Agreement our two countries signed in 2008.”