A report viewed by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reveals a secret agreement between the US administration of Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that would enable the US-led coalition to continue its presence in Iraq.
Referencing the July 2021 agreement to shut down the US “combat mission” in Iraq, the report shows instead that the US has inserted language and terms that extend its mission in Iraq.
Rather than a full withdrawal, the US has agreed only to end “combat missions,” and will continue to operate to sideline pro-resistance and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) factions in the Iraqi government.
The secret document obtained by Al-Akhbar on the latest agreement between Biden and Kadhimi further revealed Washington’s longtime intentions of continuing its occupation.
The report makes clear that the Deputy Commander of the US-led International Coalition, US General Richard Bell, confirmed such intentions in a September 2021 meeting with Arab and foreign ambassadors and diplomats in Baghdad.
According to the report, Kadhimi and Biden have said that there will be no withdrawal from Iraq after 31 December 2021. It reiterated that the mission of the US-backed International Coalition forces has “changed” since the July agreement.
In the report, General Bell says that the biggest challenge the coalition faces today is how to legitimize the US-backed government in Baghdad and its associated constitutional institutions, because of their relative weakness in Iraq’s current political system.
Bell expressed concerns, according to the document, that a complete US withdrawal would lead to “disastrous results,” fearing the control of what he called “militias,” in reference to Iraq’s pro-Iran resistance factions.
Attacks from the Iraqi resistance against US bases and convoys following the new year’s deadline have intensified, and the Al-Akhbar article mentions that this has “increased tensions within the Iraqi security” apparatus, which also posed a challenge to the US.