Iraqi leader again demands US-led coalition leave

AFP , Thursday 18 Jan 2024

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani on Thursday repeated his call for the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition to depart his country amid soaring regional tensions over the Israel-Hamas war.

Mohamed Soudani
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) speaks with Iraq s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani (L) during a bilateral meeting at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos on January 17, 2024. AFP


"The end of the international coalition mission is a necessity for the security and stability of Iraq," he said during a televised event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"It is also a necessity for preserving constructive bilateral relations between Iraq and the coalition countries."

Sudani, whose government relies on the support of Iran-aligned parties, has repeatedly said in recent weeks he would like to see foreign troops leave Iraq.

His remarks came after the United States carried out strikes on pro-Iran groups in response to attacks since mid-October on American and other coalition forces deployed in Iraq since 2014 in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

At least 130 attacks, including 53 in Iraq and 77 in Syria, were recorded between October 17 and January 11, according to the Pentagon.

Most of the drone or rocket attacks targeting foreign troops have been claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose alliance of Iran-linked armed groups that oppose US support for Israel in the Gaza war.

A US drone strike in early January killed a military commander and another member of Harakat al-Nujaba, a faction of Hashed al-Shaabi.

The Hashed is a collection of mainly pro-Iranian former paramilitary units now integrated into the Iraqi armed forces.

In his remarks on Thursday, Sudani said it was also necessary to "immediately begin a dialogue, to reach an understanding and a timetable regarding the end of the mission of international advisers."

The United States has about 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and nearly 900 in Syria supporting the anti-IS coalition.

Since the end of 2021, the coalition in Iraq said it halted all combat mission and is stationed on Iraqi military bases purely in and advisory and training capacity.

Sudani said the coalition was no longer needed.

"Today, according to the analysis of all specialists in Iraq and among our friends, ISIS does not represent a threat to the Iraqi state," he said, using another acronym for IS.

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