[pjw] NEWS: US Starts Iraq Drawdown of Troops (AP 2/5)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Thu Feb 8 14:31:14 EST 2018

Hey Iraq AG supporters
This article actually came from the Skanner news via their email 
headlines Tuesday. So while the Associated Press article claims 60% of 
US troops will be leaving, it also says over 4000 will remain. It also 
ignores the world's largest embassy, which was addressed in this other 
article in USA Today on Jan 17:
  Whatever happened to the giant U.S. embassy in Baghdad?

It briefly mentions that the troops are actually heading from Iraq to 
Afghanistan, which is also what happened in 2011-- not really a retreat 
from occupation and war, only a shuffling of the deck chairs.

And of course it says the US defeated ISIS in Mosul, but doesn't mention 
how Donald Trump's efforts to undo or outdo President Obama include a 50% 
increase in civilian deaths in Iraq by airstrikes (and 55% in Syria):

'Crazy numbers': civilian deaths from airstrikes almost double in a year
(The Guardian, Jan. 8)

So... I guess we should be glad there will be less of a US footprint in 
Iraq? But ever vigilant to say "bring all the troops home now" and "End 
the US occupation of Iraq" (which is what it says on our logo:

dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

---------- Forwarded message ----------
US Starts Iraq Drawdown After Declaring Victory Over IS
    Published: 05 February 2018

    AL-ASAD AIRBASE, Iraq (AP) -- American troops have started to draw down
    from Iraq following Baghdad's declaration of victory over the Islamic
    State group last year, according to Western contractors at a U.S.-led
    coalition base in Iraq.

    Dozens of American soldiers have been transported from Iraq to
    Afghanistan on daily flights over the past week, along with weapons and
    equipment, the contractors said.

    Two Iraqi officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the U.S.-led
    coalition and the Iraqi government have reached an agreement to draw
    down troops in Iraq for the first time since the war against IS was
    launched over three years ago.

    The Iraqi officials said the process has not officially begun.

    However, an AP reporter at the Al-Asad base in western Iraq saw troop
    movements reflecting the contractors' account of a drawdown. The
    contractors and the Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity in
    line with regulations and declined to reveal the exact size of the

    "Continued coalition presence in Iraq will be conditions-based,
    proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of
    Iraq," coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told the AP when asked
    for comment.

    One senior Iraqi official close to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said
    60 percent of all American troops currently in country will be
    withdrawn, according to the initial agreement reached with the United
    States. The plan would leave a force of about 4,000 U.S. troops to
    continue training the Iraqi military.

    IFRAME: https://www.youtube.com/embed/3lmpzpi90zk

    A Pentagon report released in November said there were 8,892 U.S.
    troops in Iraq as of late September.

    The U.S. first launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in
    Iraq in August 2014. At the time the military intervention was
    described as "limited," but as Iraq's military struggled to roll back
    the extremists, the U.S.-led coalition's footprint in the country
    steadily grew.

    "We've had a recent change of mission and soon we'll be supporting a
    different theater of operations in the coming month," U.S. Army 1st Lt.
    William John Raymond told the AP at Al-Asad.

    He spoke as he and a handful of soldiers from his unit conducted
    equipment inventory checks required before leaving Iraq. Raymond
    declined to specify where his unit was being redeployed, in line with
    regulations as the information has not yet been made public.

    The drawdown of U.S. forces comes just three months ahead of national
    elections in Iraq, where the indefinite presence of American troops
    continues to be a divisive issue.

    Al-Abadi, who is hoping to remain in office for another term, has long
    struggled to balance the often competing interests of Iraq's two key
    allies: Iran and the United States.

    While the U.S. has closely backed key Iraqi military victories over IS
    such as the retaking of the city of Mosul, Iraq's Shiite-led
    paramilitary forces with close ties to Iran have called for the
    withdrawal of U.S. forces. The prime minister has previously stated
    that Iraq's military will need American training for years to come.

    The Iraq drawdown also follows the release of the Pentagon's National
    Defense Strategy that cited China's rapidly expanding military and an
    increasingly aggressive Russia as the U.S. military's top national
    security priorities.

    "Great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of
    U.S. national security," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month
    in remarks outlining the strategy.

    Iraq declared victory over IS in December after more than three years
    of grueling combat against the extremists in a war Iraqi forces fought
    with close U.S. support. In 2014, at the height of the Sunni militant
    group's power, IS controlled nearly a third of Iraqi territory.

    While IS' self-styled caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria has
    crumbled and the militants no longer hold a contiguous stretch of
    territory, in Iraq, the group continues to pose a security risk,
    according to Iraqi and American officials.

    IFRAME: https://www.youtube.com/embed/4yPTAxI8wTY

    IS maintains a "cellular structure" of fighters who carry out attacks
    in Iraq aimed at disrupting local security, U.S. Marine Corps Brig.
    Gen. James Glynn told reporters during a Pentagon briefing last month.

    Glynn pledged continued support for Iraq's security forces, but
    acknowledged U.S.-led coalition "capabilities" in Iraq would likely
    shift now that conventional combat operations against the group have
    largely ceased.

    There were some 170,000 American troops in Iraq in 2007 at the height
    of the surge of U.S. forces to combat sectarian violence unleashed by
    the U.S.-led invasion of the country to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.
    U.S. troop numbers eventually wound down to 40,000 before the complete
    withdrawal in 2011.


    Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad.

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