Alwaght- Recently, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the member states have agreed to reinforce the Western military organization’s training mission in Iraq.
Stoltenberg gave publicity to the agreement after a two-day summit of the NATO defense ministers, saying that with the security situation challenging, the organization commits to increasing its logistics.
"Our aim is to help build self-sustaining Iraqi forces able to fight terrorism, prevent the return of ISIS, and stabilize their country," claimed Stoltenberg.
He also cited a "concerning" rise in the number and sophistication of attacks against international forces in Iraq.
Stoltenberg said the scope of the mission’s upgrading would be decided at a meeting of alliance defense ministers scheduled earlier next year.
The remarks by the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization about reinforcement of the forces and mission in Iraq are coming while they are contradictory to the Arab country’s conditions and demands.
Increase of NATO presence against Iraqis’ demand
The commitment cited by the NATO chief to expand the mission of the forces comes as the Iraqi public opinions are strongly demanding the foreign forces to leave their country as the ISIS terrorist group, for which the US-led Western coalition sent forces to Iraq, is now obliterated organizationally.
It was with consideration of this Iraqi people’s tendency and will that the national parliament in February passed a bill calling for all foreign forces, and on top of them the US troops, to leave the country. The lawmakers also demanded a ban on the use of the country’s airspace by foreign forces on any grounds.
After a fatal US attack on a convoy carrying the top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraq’s Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at the Baghdad International Airport on February 3, the Iraqi public remarkably changed in favor of the expulsion of the American and Western forces as the anti-American sentiments engulfed the nation. The assassinated military commanders, one of the IRGC’s Quds Force and one of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), played a strikingly influential role in the defeat of ISIS. The parliamentary bill was apparently an outcome of the consideration of demands by the people.
Now while both the public and the parliament seriously emphasize on the exit of the foreign troops, NATO insists that it is planning presence and activity boost in Iraq, something illegal and on a collision course to the calls by people for immediate withdrawal.
US continues presence in Iraq under NATO cover
Some analysts suggest that the NATO strengthening of its presence in Iraq, while words spread that the US is moving to cut its forces in Iraq within a schedule for the gradual end of its presence there, is seeking to build pressure on Baghdad.
The analysts continue that although Washington cannot continue its military stay like it was in the past as the home Iraqi pressures continue for American withdrawal, the Americans are seeking a proxy presence under the NATO flag in some parts of Iraq.
Earlier, an American official, who talked on the condition of anonymity, said that it is predicted that the US cut its forces in Iraq by one-third.
The US President Donald Trump in mid-August and during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mostafa al-Kadhimi at the White House said that he was seeking to remove forces from Iraq and this process will take three years to complete.
Last month, CENTCOM commander General Kenneth F. MacKenzie stated that the American forces will be cut to 3,000 from 5,200. CENTCOM, short for Central Command, is a unified combatant command whose area of responsibility includes West Asia, Egypt, Central Asia, and parts of South Asia.
In this case, although the US ostensibly removes its forces from Iraq, it will continue its presence and movement in the country under the umbrella of the NATO mission, despite a call by the Iraqis for withdrawal of each and every Western military element. Observers hold that NATO reinforcement plan would be as unacceptable as the US military presence.
So, although Stoltenberg has cited security stabilization as an excuse for the decision, such a move would smash against Iraq people's demands. Additionally, it is highly unlikely that NATO presence continuation would give any help to the improvement of the security circumstances in Iraq. Even worse, ongoing Western presence may stand as a cause for deterioration of the conditions more than ever.