Washington: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadimi will meet with US President Donald Trump for the first time in Washington on Thursday. The presence of US troops in the country is his top priority.
At the time of the meeting, pro-Iranian militants’ attacks on American targets were increasing, while Tehran and Washington competed for power in Iraq, and the gap between the pro-Iranian factions and the friendly prime minister in Baghdad was growing.
Kadhemi took office in May, and he faces a challenge from the Hashed al-Shaabi faction, an alliance of Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups that have close ties to Iran.
Hashed al-Shaabi was formally incorporated into the Iraqi state, and its political representatives called for the expulsion of 5,000 US troops deployed in Iraq as part of the anti-jihadist operation.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that “armed groups not under the full control of the prime minister hinder our progress,” calling on them to “be replaced by local police as soon as possible.”
Pompeo-speaking at a press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein-appeared to be referring to Shia paramilitary groups, although he did not identify them by name.
When asked about plans to reduce the 5,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq, Pompeo said he had no numbers and urged people to “not concentrate.”
Regarding the issue of troops, a senior government official said: “There is no clear timetable, and there is no clear timetable, but this is definitely part of the discussion because we have assessed the security requirements of Iraq and the requirements of the United States. I believe it can do it. To.”
The official called the “armed group” “a long-standing issue that is challenging the security of Iraq, threatening the interests of the US military in the region, and it is certainly a challenge to Iraq’s sovereignty.”
The official said: “We believe that the troops controlled by the sovereignty of the Iraqi government should best meet Iraq’s internal security needs.”
The pro-Iranian faction was hit hard by Washington’s assassination of one of its supreme leaders, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in January. The strike also killed Iran’s Supreme Commander-in-chief Qassem So General Qasem Soleimani.