•   
  •   
  •   

World 'Policy has not changed': Mark Esper denies Iraqi claim that signed withdrawal letter was sent

23:09  07 january  2020
23:09  07 january  2020 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

Trump urges Iraqi PM to protect US personnel after protesters storm embassy

  Trump urges Iraqi PM to protect US personnel after protesters storm embassy President Trump on Tuesday spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi about the safety of American personnel at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad.The White House said Trump and al-Mahdi of Iraq discussed "regional security issues" and that the president "emphasized the need to protect United States personnel and facilities in Iraq."Trump is in Florida spending the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort. He spent just under an hour at his golf club in West Palm Beach on Tuesday where he said he had a meeting on the Middle East and the military.

But the Pentagon has denied any plans to exit the country, and a top general said the letter was sent by "mistake." US Defense Secretary Mark Esper denied Monday that the White House was preparing to pull troops out of Iraq . The announcement came after a top US general in the country

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters earlier, "We are re-positioning forces throughout the The letter to Iraq 's defense ministry came to light a day after Iraq 's parliament voted to expel all Neither Esper nor Milley would clarify how the letter was made public, or who directed it to be drafted.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pushed back on claims from the Iraqi prime minister that the United States sent out a signed letter about withdrawing troops from the country.

Mourners gather during a funeral procession for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Basra, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Thousands of people gathered in Basra on Tuesday to bid farewell to Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior Iraqi militia commander who was killed in a US airstrike on Friday. (AP Photo)© ASSOCIATED PRESS Mourners gather during a funeral procession for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Basra, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Thousands of people gathered in Basra on Tuesday to bid farewell to Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior Iraqi militia commander who was killed in a US airstrike on Friday. (AP Photo)

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Esper said that while an unsigned draft letter was mistakenly released, there was not a signed one, as Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi claimed. He said reports to the contrary “may be people trying to create confusion.”

U.S.-led coalition says it will withdraw from Iraq: letter.

  U.S.-led coalition says it will withdraw from Iraq: letter. U.S.-led coalition tells Iraqi military it will withdraw from Iraq: letter."Sir, in deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement," read a letter from United States Marine Corps Brigadier General William H. Seely III, the commanding general of Task Force Iraq.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper has denied US troops are pulling out of Iraq , after a letter from It appeared to have been sent by Brig Gen William H Seely, head of the US military's task force in He said it was a draft which was poorly worded, had not been signed and should not have been released.

The letter was meant to coordinate with the Iraqi military on an increase in U.S. helicopter and troop movements as they shift positions around the country. Esper said the U.S. remains committed to the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq and the region.

“Our policy has not changed. We are not leaving Iraq, and a draft, unsigned letter does not constitute a policy change,” Esper said. “And there’s no signed letter to the best of my knowledge. I’ve asked the question.”

“We are in Iraq, and we are there to support Iraqi forces and Iraqi government become a strong, independent, and prosperous country,” he added.

Esper said that if the Iraqis want the U.S. to withdraw from the country, the situation would be taken “one step at a time.”

“There’s a few procedural mechanisms, hurdles, if you will, that the Iraqi government would need to go through,” Esper explained. “I think it’s fair to say that many Iraqis recognize the strategic importance of our partnership with them.”

Iraq's parliament voted to expel American forces after the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. The resolution was nonbinding, which means it doesn't carry the force of law.

Esper said many of the Iraqi people still stand in firm opposition to Iran and the Iranian proxy militias that operate in Iraqi.

“We still see Iraqis on the streets protesting their government due to corruption and the malign influence of Iran, so those sentiments, those feelings, have not gone away,” he said. “I think that at the end of the day, working with the Iraqi people, you’ll find that our presence is important for both their country [and] ours.”

Regarding potential impacts on military operations against the Islamic State group, Esper said that he had not received any reports that Soleimani’s death has “had a material impact on the ability to engage ISIS.”

AG Barr: 'The president clearly had the authority to act' in Soleimani strike .
President Trump and his national security advisers have offered shifting accounts of what prompted the decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani."Frankly I didn't think it was a close call," Barr told reporters. "The president clearly had the authority to act as he did. ... We had a situation where the Iranians had already embarked on a series of escalating violent actions taken against our allies, taken against the American people, our troops, with the avowed purpose of driving us out of the Middle East.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 1
This is interesting!