AntiWar.com & Reuters & Al Jazeera America – 2015-12-10 01:07:01
US Looks to Circumvent Iraqi PM’s Objection on New Troops
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 4, 2015) — When Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the latest US deployment of ground troops into Iraq, he set in motion a chain reaction within Iraq’s political leadership that has other US officials scrambling to protect PM Hayder Abadi’s increasingly precarious situation.
Abadi was quick to object to the US deployment, and it’s clear why. A huge number of Shi’ite militias, many of them hugely politically powerful, are blasting the deployment and demanding the Abadi government do something to prevent them, warning they’ll shift from fighting ISIS to fighting US troops instead.
US officials are pretty sure they can circumvent Abadi’s objections, but are trying to figure out the best way to do it without further weakening Abadi, who they still see as a vital ally. As one US official noted, “there are ways to make these things work.”
Key Iraqi MP Sami Askari, an ally of Abadi, suggested in the future this could be accomplished by just not making public statements, saying the US could easily add 100 or even 500 troops at a time “without anyone rejecting it” so long as they weren’t making high-profile announcements.
Iraq Demands that Turkey Withdraw Its Troops from Northern Iraq
Iraqi President Massoum called Turkish troops’ presence in northern Iraq “a violation of international norms and law”
Reuters & Al Jazeera America
(December 5, 2015) — Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador on Saturday to demand that Turkey immediately withdraw hundreds of troops deployed in recent days to northern Iraq, near the city of Mosul, which is controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The ministry said in a statement the Turkish forces had entered Iraqi territory without the knowledge of the central government in Baghdad, and that Iraq considered such presence “a hostile act.”
But Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the troop rotation was routine and that Turkish forces had set up a camp near Mosul almost a year ago in coordination with Iraqi authorities.
“This camp was established as a training camp for a force of local volunteers fighting terrorism,” he said in a speech to a labor union that was broadcast live by NTV news channel.
ISIL fighters overran Mosul in June 2014. A much anticipated counteroffensive by Iraqi forces has been repeatedly postponed because they are tied down in fighting elsewhere.
Iraq has urged the international community to provide more weapons and training in its battle against ISIL, but rejects most forms of direct intervention, mistrusting the intentions of foreign powers.
Davutoglu said the camp, located some 19 miles northeast of Mosul, was set up at the Mosul governor’s request and in coordination with the Iraqi Defense Ministry.
“It has trained more than 2,000 of our Mosul brothers, contributing to the freeing of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist organization,” he said.
Iraqi President Fouad Massoum earlier described the deployment as “a violation of international norms and law” and called on Turkey to withdraw, echoing a statement from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s media office.
A senior Kurdish military officer based north of Mosul told Reuters that additional Turkish trainers had arrived at a camp in the area overnight on Thursday escorted by a Turkish protection force.
A small number of Turkish trainers was already at the camp to train the Hashid Watani (national mobilization), a force made up of mainly Sunni Arab former Iraqi police and volunteers from Mosul.
The United States was aware of Turkey’s deployment of Turkish soldiers to northern Iraq, but the move is not part of the US-led coalition’s activities, according to defense officials in Washington.
US officials made several statements last week on plans to send more US troops to Iraq, prompting powerful Iraqi politicians and militias to protest against the presence of any foreign troops in Iraq without explicit permission from parliament.
Powerful Iraqi Shiite Muslim armed groups have pledged to fight a planned deployment of US forces to the country. Turkey has in recent months been bombing Kurdish militant positions in northern Iraq.
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