Hilarious! US Tells Iraq Leaving Base Is a “Red Line”
Told to leave the US acts as if it were the sovereign power over Ayn al-Asad rather than Iraq
The US military has offered senior Iraqi security officials plans for a partial pullback of troops from Iraq in response to January’s parliamentary vote calling for foreign forces to leave the country, Middle East Eye can reveal.
A meeting between the two sides, held in great secrecy last week, heard that Washington was prepared “in principle” to discuss withdrawal.
A representative of the US military told the Iraqis present that the United States was prepared to leave positions in or near Shia-majority areas, such as Balad Air Base, which is located 80km north of Baghdad and houses US trainers and contractors.
Washington, the Iraqis were told, could even consider reducing its presence in Baghdad.
“We are prepared to leave some of the Shia-majority areas, like the base in Balad. Maybe we could reduce our presence in Baghdad,” the military representative told his Iraqi counterparts, who understood from this that the US presence in the Iraqi capital would be reduced to guarding its embassy and the airport.
However, the US side categorically ruled out withdrawing from their biggest air base in Iraq, and the indeed the whole Middle East, Ain al-Assad.
The Anbar province base came under ballistic missile fire from Iran last month, in response to the US killing of the top Iranian commander, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces, at Baghdad airport.
For the US side, Ain al-Assad was its “red line”.
The representative said: “We cannot even start talking about withdrawing [from that base]. Withdrawal is out of the question.”
Such was the sensitivity of these discussions that they were held well away from Iraq. The meeting took place in the private residence of the Canadian ambassador to Jordan in Amman, Middle East Eye was told.
Present at the meeting was a representative of the US military, a Nato official and a senior Iraqi security adviser.
Source: The Middle East Eye