Trump provocatively pledged to keep US troops in Iraq.
The President said in a recent interview with CBS that “…I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up.” His remarks didn’t go unnoticed by his Iraqi counterpart, who rebuked Trump for abusing his country’s anti-terrorist military mandate as part of America’s proxy war against Iran, with some lawmakers promising to pass a bill that would call for the removal of US troops from Iraq. For as much as that intended move can be applauded for symbolically protecting their nation’s sovereignty, it’s unlikely that Trump would approve of anything of the sort happening after he just publicly committed to keeping American soldiers in the country.
Without getting bogged down in the realm of speculation about how the US would react if it was officially asked to leave by its hosts or whatever underhanded moves it might make in advance of that happening in order to preempt such a scenario from unfolding in the first place, it should be noted that prolonging the American military presence in Iraq would actually accomplish a lot more than just “watching Iran”. For starters, the US has strategic and energy interests in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is still in a standoff with the federal government over its administrative future following its failed bid for independence in fall 2017. The situation there isn’t fully resolved and probably won’t be for some time because fundamental disagreements over the devolution of powers – especially in the budgetary sense – have yet to be resolved.
Another relevant point to pay attention to is that the rest of Iraq is still deeply divided in a domestic political sense, as proven by last year’s riotous unrest. Whether the US covertly manipulates this sentiment for strategic ends or simply wants to “watch” how it develops in the future, that’s yet another reason for it to retain military forces in the country on the alleged basis of responding to any terrorist inroads that might happen during that time and/or protecting American lives and property if the state starts to collapse. Bearing these motivations in mind, it’s extremely unlikely that the US will withdraw from Iraq anytime soon no matter what its parliamentarians might want. America wants to “watch” Iran, monitor the Kurds, and keep an eye on domestic unrest in the country, all of which serve its strategic ends.
By Andrew Korybko
Source: Oriental Review