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Confusion, Evident Splits on Whether U.S. Troops Will Leave Iraq

Jan. 6, 2020 (EIRNS)—On the evening of Jan. 6 what appeared to be confusion reigned on the vital subject of whether U.S. forces were going to leave Iraq, after the Iraqi Parliament voted to tell them and all foreign forces to do so. Underneath the apparent confusion were likely splits and fights among commanders who know that it is necessary those forces leave Iraq, and Pentagon and State Department leaders determined to keep them there, doing nothing but provoking hostility and protecting their personal bases.

Reuters, the Washington Post, AFP, and other media reported in late afternoon Monday that U.S. military officials leading a joint task force had told Iraqi government officials, by letter dated today, that they were preparing to exit Iraq, respecting that country’s Parliament vote on Sunday to eject foreign troops. Marine Brig. Gen. William H. Seely wrote,

“In due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, the CJTF-OIR [Command Joint Task Force—Operation Inherent Resolve] repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement. We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.”

Shortly later, Military Times reported, “A U.S. defense official confirmed to Military Times that the letter from Marine Brig. Gen. William Seely was authentic.”

But Defense Secretary Mark Esper “said the United States is not pulling out of Iraq,” that newspaper also reported. Following a brief Pentagon press conference which did not clear up the “confusion,” and where Esper said the Iraq Parliament resolution was non-binding, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was sent back out to say that the letter of General Seely was “a mistake,” or “a draft,” should not have been sent! And that U.S. forces would not leave Iraq.

And then again at 4:00 p.m. (ET), National Public Radio reported “troop movement signaled by heavy helicopter traffic out of a U.S. base in central Baghdad,” and quoted Esper that some forces were being “repositioned within Iraq.” And then, “Two other U.S. officials told NPR that some are going to Kuwait temporarily.”

The Pentagon provided a statement on Twitter at 4:36 p.m. ET which said, “There has been no change in US policy with regard to our force presence in Iraq. We continue to consult with the Iraqi government regarding the defeat-ISIS mission and efforts to support the Iraqi Security Forces.”

The permanent war faction is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. There were no tweets on the subject from the President.

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