What does NATO want in Iraq?

BY: Valeria Rodriguez

What does NATO want in Iraq?

PEJOURNAL – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) plans to increase the number of its forces in Iraq with the intention of expanding the organization’s training activities in the area as soon as the Covid19 epidemic subsides.

Since World War II, the United States had a leading role within the organization, made up of 30 states, being the one that contributes the most to the budget with 22.1 percent, followed by Germany with 14.70 percent, France with 10, 60 percent and the United Kingdom with 9.8 percent.

During the Trump administration, the relationship with NATO was somewhat uneven. In fact, he treated it as an obsolete organization and a relic of World War II since he somehow understood that its power in areas such as West Asia did not have the effect it intended, and he was losing money, but despite this he did not break up as he did with other organizations.

With the Biden administration, since the strategy of the Democrats is to use all the existing instruments of power to protect their interests, particularly in Iraq, planning and managing the idea of the expansion of NATO, especially as a result of the pressure on the Iraqi government and national government to withdraw US troops.

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 was a major factor in the entry of NATO forces into Iraq. Looking at the US-led coalition in the Iraqi war, it can be seen that sixteen members of that organization cooperated with Washington on this issue. Although the presence of some of them was not significant, but it has certainly played an important role in preparing politicians and public opinion for the United States to stay there under the guise of military training.

NATO’s presence in Iraq

In 2018, at the request of the government of the Arab country, it was agreed to establish an advisory and training mission by NATO to Iraqi troops. On its website, it maintains that the mission has the articulation of civilian and military personnel and works closely with other international actors on the ground.

After the American attack that assassinated Generals Soleimani and Al – Mohandes in January of last year, the Iraqi Congress asked the United States to withdraw its troops, but the process was carried out slowly and after an arduous negotiation between Trump and the first Iraqi minister, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, it was agreed that troops would be withdrawn but that the presence of others who would contribute to the military advice and would be in charge of NATO would be maintained, which of course angered a large part of the Iraqi political arc and the people who do not accept the American presence.

Also, in mid-February, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the organization would increase its number of troops in Iraq eight times.

The decision was rejected by Iraqi officials and figures who argue that it is a new political game to continue with the US presence in the area, while other government officials declared that the presence of NATO forces is for training and advice of Iraqi forces.

Since last year the situation in Iraq has become increasingly heated even when at the end of last year, Trump pardoned four veteran soldiers of the former Blackwater private company (now Academi) for the war crimes in 2007 in Baghdad. It should be noted that there is special legislation that allows the president to decide on the guilt of soldiers who commit war crimes in the territory, something that is very difficult to prove.

Trump somehow left the path free for Biden since by increasing tension and discontent in Iraq, it would be somewhat easier for him to start promoting armed actions with the excuse of terrorism and insecurity in the country. In addition, to this are added the military exercises of the Central Command, CENTCOM, after the explosion of the port of Beirut, in the border triangle of Syria, Iraq and Jordan where just a few months later a new terrorist cell was discovered.

On the other hand, with the arrival of Biden to power, the withdrawal of some troops and the reestablishment of commitments with different organizations and treaties began. In fact, on February 19, Biden was present at the first international summit of NATO and in his speech said: “The United States has returned” referring to its position with respect to that of its predecessor who carried out an isolationist foreign policy.

Historically, Democratic governments have used the foundations of insecurity and terrorism to justify their military actions and this Thursday it was shown that “the fox loses hair but not tricks”, since the Pentagon approved two bombings of border posts of the resistance in the Al Bukamal area on the Syrian-Iraqi border with the excuse of responding to the launch of rockets from Iraq against US targets, but here everything is more complicated since according to Reuters, resistance facilities were located in that area.

According to the spokesman for the US Department of Defense, John Kirby the attack was in response to a recent rocket attack against US troops and coalition forces in Iraq from the province of Erbil (Iraqi Kurdish capital).

According to the Iraqi News Agency, a total of seven targets were attacked, six of which were evacuated before the attack due to spy drone flights and warnings from the Resistance Intelligence Unit.

This is the first military action of the Biden administration, and it occurs at a critical moment in diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran regarding the nuclear issue. It should be noted that in mid-February the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Grossi, was visiting Tehran.