As various foreign media reports on recent developments in Iraq around the presence of US bases and US military contingents indicate, opposition towards them grows almost daily.
In January 2020, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of foreign armies and, above all, the US military contingent from the territory of the republic, and on April 7 this year, Baghdad announced the formation of a technical committee to determine the terms and conditions for the withdrawal of the international forces. Driven by the demands of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from US military intervention, the US was eventually forced to reduce its military presence in these countries as early as this spring, leaving 2,500 troops in each country. And along with the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, this problem is rapidly arising for Washington in Iraq.
It is worth recalling that while the Afghan war has been going on for 20 years, and at its peak, the US contingent was nearly 100,000. On the other hand, in the last Iraqi war, which involved up to 250,000 soldiers of the American troops alone, not counting soldiers of Washington’s allies, officially two years shorter and much larger than the Afghan war, costing more than a hundred thousand innocent lives! On March 20, 2003, the United States began the current armed aggression against Iraq under a specially trumped-up pretext. Moreover, international public law qualifies the actions of the United States as aggression because, in accordance with the definition of aggression adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1974, the fact of declaring a war, which is not an act of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, does not turn an illegal war into a lawful war, but represents an act of aggression.
According to the American-British non-governmental human rights organization Iraq Body Count, during the first four years of the occupation of Iraq, about 80 thousand peaceful residents were killed, more than 160 thousand were wounded and injured. More than 40.5 thousand people became victims in Baghdad. A quarter of the dead were women and children. Yet the data is not complete and covers only the period up to the end of 2007. As a result, there were more civilian casualties in the following years.
We should not forget that the military operation of the USA and their allies against Iraq started not in 2003 but thirty years ago, on January 16, 1991. The decision, forced by Washington in the UN Security Council (Resolution No 678 of November 29, 1990), to use “all necessary means” to restore peace and security in this region. At the time, the total number of allied troops was about 680,000, of which about 415,000 were US troops.
So countering the American presence in Iraq has a very long history and has been around for three decades. Therefore, the attempts by various formations on Iraqi territory to expel the US occupiers from the country through more than just diplomatic means are quite clear. Among the most recent forceful actions against the US presence in Iraq is the attack by Iranian-backed militias on the secret CIA hangar using a drone in April, as reported by The Washington Post. The attack caused significant damage to a US military facility in Erbil, the capital in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, as The Jerusalem Post reported on May 30. According to media reports, the attack was aimed at a hangar that housed one of the turboprop aircraft of the CIA or the United States Special Operations Command, which conducts intelligence-gathering operations in Iraq and Syria from Erbil. There were also reports that the attacked hangar contained American Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).
This attack is particularly noteworthy because US bases are supposed to have some form of defense against this known and growing threat, when in fact, proved to be helpless. Since McKenzie Jr., Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM covering the Middle East), has repeatedly warned of the growing threat of enemy drones in the region over the past year, including in March 2020 and again in February 2021. It is well known that the US has sent Patriot air-defence missile systems to Iraq, C-RAM, and other securities to neutralize air threats. In addition, the US Army also acquired two Israeli Iron Dome Missile Defense Batteries.
In recent months, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have repeatedly struck US military installations in Iraq, as The New York Times has reported, citing US officials in particular. In the past two months alone, for example, armed groups in Iraq have used small, explosive-laden drones at least three times. On May 8, it was reported that a drone carrying explosives struck Al Asad Airbase in Anbar province in Iraq, which is used by the US military. It is noted that the attacks were carried out at night. The targets are increasingly hangars, which the US side uses to store equipment, including its drones.
On April 7, the State Department reported that the US and Iraq agreed that there would be no US troops or foreign military bases in the country and that Washington would withdraw most of its forces from Iraq. As a result, only Iraqi troops would fight against ISIS, which is banned in Russia.
In early April, US President Joe Biden instructed the Pentagon to withdraw some US forces and weapons from the Persian Gulf to reduce Washington’s military presence in the Middle East. According to some media reports, the United States has already relocated at least three batteries of Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems. Also, it plans to move several reconnaissance systems from the Middle East.
So the shameful flight of the US Army will be taking place not only from Afghanistan but from Iraq in the near future.
Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.