Iraqi lawmakers to take new position if talks with US on forces withdrawal end without decision: MP

A member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee says the lawmakers will adopt a new stand if the new round of talks with Washington on the withdrawal of remaining American forces in the Arab country ends without a decision.

“The parliament will take a new position in the event the new round of strategic dialogue between Baghdad and Washington ends next April without a decision on withdrawal of foreign combat forces from the country,” Kati al-Rikabi told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Saturday.

Baghdad and Washington are set to resume talks next month on the withdrawal of foreign combat forces from Iraq.

In a statement on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the meetings will “further clarify that coalition forces are in Iraq solely for the purpose of training and advising Iraqi forces to ensure that Daesh (ISIS) cannot reconstitute.”

Earlier, Iraqi officials confirmed sending an official request to Washington to schedule a series of meetings over the withdrawal of remaining US combat forces as well as bilateral relations.

Talks between the two sides began in June 2020 under former US President Donald Trump’s administration. The upcoming talks, however, are the first under the Joe Biden administration.

US withdraws troops from Erbil air base

Iraqi sources reported on Friday that a number of US troops withdrew from the Erbil air base in Iraq’s Kurdish region, Mehr news agency reported.

The sources said the American forces relocated to the Fort Bliss air base in Texas, the US, but noted that it is not yet clear whether the move was a retreat or whether they simply changed their position.

US military and diplomatic positions in Iraq have been repeatedly targeted over the last year, as anti-American sentiments soar in the country, especially since the US assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad airport on January 3 last year.

In the immediate aftermath of the US assassination, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously passed a bill mandating the expulsion of all foreign forces from their country.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but it has continued to keep its forces in the country in spite of growing calls by Iraqis to leave the country. The Iraq war led to the emergence of terrorist groups such as Daesh.

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