ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Germany's foreign minister on Monday said that any withdrawal of the US-led Coalition against the Islamic State from Iraq will aid the group’s resurgence, making it not only a domestic threat in Iraq but also an international one.
“The troop withdrawal from Iraq will make it a fertile ground for terrorism and attacks will hit the region and Europe,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas in a press conference in Amman.
Maas argued that progress in the fight against the Islamic State need to be preserved, so “it is important to continue with our duties as the International Coalition in Iraq and the area.”
Amid elevated tensions between the US and Iran, both the Coalition and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) previously suspended military operations against the extremist group to focus on ensuring the security of the military bases in Iraq from which its troops operate.
“In the past few weeks, ISIS conducted several attacks, increasing its activity. Our concern is that a sudden extraction of foreign troops in Iraq will help ISIS get stronger and further increase their attacks in Iraq, posing a great threat in Iraq and European countries,” Mass added.
In late December, a few days after the US launched a strike on five bases of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militias on both sides of the Iraqi–Syrian border, PMF militiamen and their supporters attacked the US embassy in Baghdad. Washington responded by assassinating leading Iranian military commander Qasim Soleimani and a senior PMF official as their convoy left Baghdad International Airport.
Following these developments, the Iraqi parliament held an extraordinary session, which Kurdish and most Sunni representatives did not attend, to pass a non-binding resolution requiring the expulsion of all "foreign" troops from Iraqi territory and to prepare for a second vote on related draft legislation on Sunday.
PMF militias threatened the MPs who did not attend the session with violence and have stated they would attack any Americans who did not leave.
Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr recently met with PMF officials in Iran to discuss the decision to expel American forces from Iraq, said a PMF spokesperson on Monday.
According to a statement, representatives of the Iran-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, the Nujaba Movement, and Saraya al-Salam in the northwestern Iranian city of Qom all took part in the meetings, “to unite and coordinate forces to fully liberate Iraq from US forces.”
Maas concluded by remarking, “We are in close contact with the Iraqi Government to keep the foreign troops inside Iraq and continue our fight against the terrorist group ISIS.”
Editing by John J. Catherine