US Tells Iraq Not Willing to Talk US Troop Withdrawal, Threatens to Cut Country From Key Bank Account Instead
The Empire thinks it's up to it
Last Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted 170-0 to order the government to expel US and other foreign troops from Iraqi soil. Getting to the goal from the vote is easier said than done, with the State Department warning Iraq that they are not at all willing to discuss troop withdrawals.
US officials have said they have no intention of leaving Iraq, but they’re skirting the legal reality of the situation by saying they’ve yet to get a formal request from Iraq to leave. How long they can maintain that pretense by simply telling Iraq not to talk about it remains to be seen.
Iraq is already looking for holes in this fairly transparent attempt to avoid discussion, with Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to devise some sort of mechanism whereby Iraq could actually request the US to leave.
The State Department has refused to comment on that request, and Mahdi’s further request for a US delegation to talk with about it was met with the US warning that any delegation they send would not be willing to talk about it.
Clearly, this is not a long-term solution, as Iraq has plainly been moving to expel US forces, and the administration simply can’t pretend they never heard about it. This is going to be treated the same as refusing the order to leave, which is what President Trump seemed to be suggesting they were going to do anyhow.
In addition to saying he didn’t intend to leave Iraq, President Trump also threatened Iraq earlier in the week with massive sanctions for even requesting the pullout. Since the US presence in Iraq was supposed to be based on Iraq’s request, the withdrawal of that request is going to remain a substantial legal problem.
The Trump administration is so determined to keep troops in Iraq that they are threatening to cut off Iraq from one of its main bank accounts if they refuse to allow it:
The Trump administration warned Iraq this week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces following the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, according to Iraqi officials.
The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said.
This is the latest administration threat to punish Iraq for asserting its rights as a sovereign state, and it was accompanied by Pompeo’s neo-imperialist message telling Baghdad that the U.S. has no intention of withdrawing from the country.
The Trump administration has abused U.S. financial clout many times over the past three years to wage economic war on other countries, but this may be the most irrational abuse of them all.
The U.S. military presence in Iraq is ostensibly there to aid Iraq against ISIS, and our forces are there with their permission. If the Iraqi government no longer wants U.S. forces there, the administration has absolutely no right to insist that they stay.
Coercing another government to make them accept a military presence that they have already rejected is nothing less than an illegal attempt to keep occupying troops in their territory. If the Trump administration goes through with this, U.S. troops will be facing another insurgency in Iraq instead of coming home as they should.
Most Iraqis are not going to accept such arrogant and heavy-handed measures, and no U.S. interests are served by doing this. The U.S. has already done an incalculable amount of damage to Iraq and its people over the last thirty years. Strangling Iraq’s economy to punish them for exercising their sovereignty is the sort of senseless cruelty that we have come to expect from this administration.
Iraq’s government has given Trump the perfect excuse to order a full U.S. withdrawal, but he refuses to accept their gift because he is so obsessed with hostility to Iran that he won’t order the troops out.
Far from presiding over a “retreat” from the region as many pundits have claimed, Trump seems intent on increasing the U.S. military footprint in the region. So much for the fantasy that the president wants to bring the troops home. Not only is he not withdrawing troops, but he has increasingly been pursuing his policies in the region in an openly neo-imperialist fashion.
Whether he is declaring his intention to steal Syrian oil as the reason for keeping troops there illegally or trying to coerce Iraq into accepting troops they don’t want, he sees these military deployments primarily in terms of how he can use them to extract resources or to dictate terms to the locals. All of this is wrong, and none of it has anything to do with advancing U.S. interests or making Americans more secure.
Trump thinks he can use the military presence in Iraq as leverage to get them to fork over some cash, and he doesn’t want to give that up. Endless war is a racket, and Trump has no intention of ending it when he can run it instead.
Source: The American Conservative