US General: Our forces remain in Iraq, and Al-Kazemi needs support
A senior US official praised Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazemi for his efforts to confront and limit the influence of Iranian militias in Iraq, which are a threat to US interests.
Gen. Kenneth McKinsey emphasized that the United States needs to help Mustafa al-Kazemi in the face of a shifting Iranian influence in the country, hinting that there is an expected decision for US forces to remain in Iraq to help him counter ISIS.
This came in statements of the American general to the Washington Post, and Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKinsey Jr., who heads the US Central Command, praised Al-Kazemi for his command to launch a raid in late June on a militia group accused by the Pentagon of launching repeated missile attacks on American personnel in Iraq.
He added that the unusual move against the Hezbollah brigades – which had angered its leaders – illustrates the challenges facing Al-Kazemi, who seeks to rein in the militias without disturbing the fragile balance between Iraq’s largest supporter, Washington and Tehran.
McKinsey’s visit and meeting with al-Kazemi, the former intelligence chief who became prime minister in May, comes as the administration of President Donald Trump is in talks with Iraqi leaders, partly aimed at determining the future of US forces in Iraq.
After negotiations in Iraq, McKinsey expressed confidence that the government will ask American forces to remain in the country despite calls for withdrawal.
Al-Kazemi’s task in combating the influence of Iranian militias in Iraq has become more difficult, after Tehran’s proxies in Baghdad responded to the dismissal of Faleh al-Fayyad from two security posts by assassinating the security expert Hisham al-Hashemi, who was shot dead by gunmen, most of whom are believed to be affiliated with the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades.
By this, Tehran has sent, through the liquidation of Hashemi, messages of intimidation to those who reject the influence of militias in Iraq, and a direct warning to Al-Kazemi.
The United States is aware of the influence of Iraqi parties loyal to Iran and the difficulty of the Iraqi prime minister’s mission.
The American administration is seeking a kind of continuous presence of American forces in Iraq under the banner of fighting ISIS.
McKinsey refused to disclose the number of troops he believed would be necessary, saying it would be up to civilian leaders.
There are more than 5,000 American soldiers currently in Iraq. The Trump administration says that the US military presence serves as a deterrent to Iranian influence there, but that US forces have been subjected to repeated missile and artillery attacks from Hezbollah and other militia groups. Source