IraqMiddle East

National security advisor: Iraq not ‘launching pad’ for aggression against other countries

Iraq needs to be steered clear of any regional war, says Iraq’s national security advisor, emphasizing that the Arab country’s territory won’t be used to attack other countries.

Qasim al-A’raji made the remarks in a meeting with the commander of NATO mission in Iraq, Lieutenant General Michael Anker Lollesgaard, on Sunday, al-Sumaria news channel reported.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed the support provided by the NATO mission to Iraq as well as ways to strengthen security and stability in the region.

“Our duty is to support Iraq and keep it away from any regional war … Therefore, we do not accept the use of Iraqi land, air, and water as launching pad for any aggression against any country,” al-A’raji said.

On January 3, 2020, the Iraq-based US forces assassinated Iran’s top anti-terror commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, near the Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani’s companions, including the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were also killed in the operation.

Two days later, the Iraqi parliament passed a law requiring the Iraqi government to end the presence of the US-led foreign forces in the Arab country.

Since the assassination, Iraqi resistance forces have ramped up pressure on the US military to leave their country, targeting American bases and forces on numerous occasions, at one point pushing the Americans to ask them to “just leave us alone.”

Earlier this year, Baghdad and Washington reached an agreement on ending the presence of all US combat troops in Iraq by the end of the year.

The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq this month, but resistance forces remain bent on expelling all American forces, including those who have stayed in the country on the pretext of training Iraqi forces or playing an advisory role.

The Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in the Iraqi Parliament has called for a meaningful withdrawal of American forces from Iraqi soil, saying the political party is opposed to the presence of American soldiers in the Arab country under any pretext.

Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the political coalition, said on Saturday that the withdrawal of all American combat forces from Iraq was “a goal that cannot be negotiated,” Shafaq news agency reported.

He rejected as unacceptable the stay of American soldiers in Iraq under the guise of training or advisory missions and said, “Our sovereignty is a red line.”

“My message is clear to the US forces and the Iraqi government,” he said. “You should implement what was agreed. We do not accept any manipulation, fraud, or changes to missions,” he added.

“If the US forces choose to remain in Iraq, they must bear the consequences of this wrong decision… We do not tolerate even one foreign soldier, neither at Ain al-Assad base nor in al-Harir, neither for training nor for [giving] advice.”

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