Sisi orders to continue providing financial resources to upgrade ICT in Egypt    Biden easing foreign travel restrictions, requiring vaccines    COVID has killed about as many Americans as the 1918-19 flu    Egypt's stocks close lower on Monday as benchmark EGX 30 slid 1.64%    Lens to play in empty stadium following fan violence    Biden pitching partnership after tough stretch with allies    Volvo EMEA, VOLVO Egypt teams at Ezz Elarab Automotive Group celebrate leap in sales this year    Egypt's CIB bank mandated to Net-Zero Banking Alliance Steering Group    FIFA sets talks with soccer leaders on biennial World Cup    Tennis: Belgium recovers from 2-0 down to beat Bolivia in Davis Cup    NKorea slams US over submarine deal, warns countermeasures    Sisi to meet Yemeni defence minister in Cairo: Presidency spox    Communications ministry allocates EGP 1.1bln for digital capacity building    UAE-based Alameda to invest around $318 mln in Egypt in five years    Egypt marks World Beach Cleanup day with longest-ever cleaning campaign of Alexandria coast    Egypt to be removed from England's red travel list on September 22    Global Finance: Egypt's NBE, Banque Misr among 50 safest banks worldwide    Egyptian archaeologists unearth collection of religious ritual tools at Temple of Pharaohs north of Cairo    Tunisia 'astonished' by Ethiopia's reaction on UNSC statement on GERD dispute    Egypt received plan from DR Congo to resume AU-sponsored GERD talks: FM Shoukry    Cairo welcomes UNSC presidential statement on GERD    The Egyptian Mawlawiya troupe's concert at Al-Gumhouriya Theatre is a must go    Borhane Alaouié (1941-2021): The auteur's shadow    Jordan hosts energy meeting today to discuss transporting Egyptian gas to Lebanon    Russia permits airlines to resume flights from 49 cities to Egypt    Egypt's Abu Soma Development partners with KOMPASS Education    Sisi: coronavirus vaccines in Africa 'far less' than actual needs    Orange Egypt Introduces Amazon Prime Video    Tokyo Olympics: Cautious opening ceremony, shy start for Egyptians in competitions    Mallawi Museum in Upper Egypt holds recycling workshop for children during Eid Al-Adha    Egypt keen on stable tax policies to attract more investors: Finance Minister    Sudan declares state of emergency as water goes beyond Merowe Dam capacity    Niagara Falls illuminated in Egyptian flag to mark 23 July Revolution anniversary    Capital flows into EM keep recovering after March 2020 slump: Central Bank of Egypt    1 child orphaned every 12 seconds due to COVID-19-associated death: World Bank    Egypt, Japanese Olympic Committee discuss boosting sports cooperation    Ethiopia ready to resume dam talks with no legally binding agreements: Ethiopian official    US emphasises AU's role in mediating Ethiopian damdispute    Sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion in Egypt's Abu Qir bay yields new archaeological treasures    New films, concerts, and destinations for Eid Al-Adha holidays    Egypt, Oman discuss enhancing bilateral economic, investment relations    Al Ahly v Kaizer Chiefs: Cairo giants eye 10th CAF Champions League title    Tunisia hopes to have a UN role in resolving Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute    Egypt denounces Ethiopia's move to start second filling of giant dam    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Egypt's Ahly is establishing a new stadium, expected to be 'sports complex'    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Iraq doesn't need US combat troops: PM
Published in Ahram Online on 25 - 07 - 2021

Iraq's prime minister says his country no longer requires American combat troops to fight the Islamic State group, but a formal time frame for their redeployment will depend on the outcome of talks with U.S. officials this week.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Iraq will still ask for US training and military intelligence gathering. His comments came in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of a planned trip to Washington, where he's slated to meet with President Joe Biden on Monday for a fourth round of strategic talks.
``There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,'' said al-Kadhimi, falling short of announcing a deadline for a US troop departure. Iraq's security forces and army are capable of defending the country without US led coalition troops, he said.
But al-Kadhimi said any withdrawal schedule would be based on the needs of Iraqi forces, who have shown themselves capable in the last year of conducting independent anti-IS missions.
``The war against IS and the readiness of our forces requires a special timetable, and this depends on the negotiations that we will conduct in Washington,'' he said.
The US and Iraq agreed in April that the US transition to a train-and-advise mission meant the US combat role would end but they didn't settle on a timetable for completing that transition. In Monday's meeting at the White House, the two leaders are expected to specify a timeline, possibly by the end of this year.
The US troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when former President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.
The U.S. mission of training and advising Iraqi forces has its most recent origins in former President Barack Obama's decision in 2014 to send troops back to Iraq. The move was made in response to the Islamic State group's takeover of large portions of western and northern Iraq and a collapse of Iraqi security forces that appeared to threaten Baghdad. Obama had fully withdrawn U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, eight years after the US invasion.
``What we want from the U.S. presence in Iraq is to support our forces in training and developing their efficiency and capabilities, and in security cooperation,'' al-Kadhimi said.
The Washington trip comes as the premier's administration has faced one setback after another, seriously undermining public confidence. Ongoing missile attacks by militia groups have underscored the limits of the state to prevent them and a series of devastating hospital fires amid soaring coronavirus cases have left dozens dead.
Meanwhile, early federal elections, in line with a promise al-Kadhimi made when he assumed office, are less than three months away.
Chief on the agenda in Washington, however, is the future of American-led coalition forces in Iraq.
Iraq declared victory over IS in late 2017 after a ruinous and bloody war. The continued presence of American troops has become a polarizing issue among Iraq's political class since the U.S.-directed drone strike that killed powerful Iranian general Qassim Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on Iraqi soil last year.
To quell the threat of widespread instability following the targeted killings, the U.S. and Iraq have held at least three rounds of strategic talks centering on Iraq's military needs in the ongoing fight against IS and to formalize a timeline for withdrawal.
Four years since their territorial defeat, IS militants are still able to launch attacks in the capital and roam the country's rugged northern region. Last week, a suicide bomber killed 30 people in a busy Baghdad marketplace. That attack was later claimed by IS.
Al-Kadhimi has faced significant pressure from mainly Shiite political parties to announce a timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal. Ongoing rocket and, more recently, drone attacks targeting the American military presence have also heaped pressure on the government. They are widely believed to be perpetrated by Iran-aligned Iraqi militia groups.
An announcement that combat troops will withdraw might serve to placate Shiite parties but will have little impact on the ground: The coalition's combat mission ended effectively in November when the Pentagon reduced US troops in the country to 2,500, according to Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein. Shiite parties have said they do not object to trainers or advisors who may remain as part of the coalition.
US and coalition officials have maintained that US troops are no longer accompanying Iraqi forces on ground missions and that coalition assistance is limited to intelligence gathering and surveillance and the deployment of advanced military technologies. Iraqi military officials have stressed they still need this support going forward.
``Iraq has a set of American weapons that need maintenance and training. We will ask the American side to continue to support our forces and develop our capabilities,'' al-Kadhimi said.
Al-Kadhimi assumed power as a consensus candidate following months of political jockeying between rival parliamentary blocs. The blocs were firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's coalition on one side and paramilitary commander and former minister Hadi al-Ameri's Fatah group on the other.
The stakes were high: Al-Kadhimi's predecessor had resigned facing pressure from historic mass anti-government protests. At least 600 people were killed as Iraqi forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds.
Al-Kadhimi presented himself as a champion of protester demands and set a lofty agenda: He promised to hold early elections, now scheduled for Oct. 10, and to bring to account the killers of activists, including whoever killed prominent commentator Hisham al-Hashimi outside his home last summer.
The arrest of an Interior Ministry employee in the shooting death of al-Hashimi fell short, many said, because it did not reveal which group ordered the killing.
Critics say al-Kadhimi has not gone far enough. This is partly because the very conditions that facilitated his rise to the premiership have also served as his chief limitation in parliament.
Political opposition watered down ambitious economic reforms that targeted Iraq's bloated public sector when the country faced a disastrous financial crisis after falling oil prices. Without a party backing him in parliament, and with rival parties vying to control ministries and other state institutions, al-Kadhimi's government has appeared weak.
Repeated standoffs with Iran-backed militia groups following the arrests of militiamen suspected of launching attacks against the US Embassy and US troops have further tarnished the government's credibility.
Activists whose cries for elections once resonated in the squares of the capital now say they will boycott the October polls, distrustful that the political establishment could ever produce free and fair elections.
A UN monitoring mission has been established in hopes of boosting voter turnout. But protesters have taken to the streets recently and expressed outrage over the rise in killings of prominent activists and journalists. Even al-Kadhimi conceded certain forces were actively seeking to undermine the polls.
``We are in a sensitive situation. We need to calm the political situation until we reach the elections,`` he said.
Al-Kadhimi has managed to prove his mettle in one arena: That of regional mediator. Iraq's friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran have brought both regional foes to the negotiation table for at least two rounds of talks in Baghdad.
``Iraq has succeeded in gaining the trust of these countries, and accordingly, it is working toward the stability of the region.''

Clic here to read the story from its source.