Iraq sets timetable for withdrawal of US troops

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Iraqi troops on an operation against Daesh

THE SPOKESMAN for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces says the Baghdad government is serious about implementing the parliament’s resolution concerning the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

US ambassador to Baghdad (Douglas A. Silliman) delivered a letter to caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, at the weekend which was described as ‘very positive’, and which covered all possible forms of strategic relationship between Iraq and the United States in detail.
‘It was important and good,’ Arabic-language al-Mawazin news agency quoted Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf as saying on Sunday.
He added: ‘Iraq will discuss the subject of foreign forces’ presence with the United States in a serious and detailed manner. The United States has significantly reduced its forces under agreement with the Iraqi government as a goodwill gesture.’
Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, says he is determined to end any illegal presence of foreign forces in the country.
Khalaf noted that the two countries will, in June, discuss setting a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops, in full compliance with the relevant parliamentary decisions, and a bilateral agreement on the matter will be worked out.
‘Security relationship between Iraq and the United States will continue within the framework of training operations and exchange of experiences even at the time of implementing the troop withdrawal decision,’ the senior Iraqi military official concluded.
On January 5th Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country, following the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi, and their companions in a US airstrike, authorised by President Donald Trump, near Baghdad International Airport two days earlier.
The Iraqi lawmakers, in line with their national and regulatory responsibilities, signed a four-point draft for the removal of US and US-led troops.
Later on January 9th, Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the move.
The 78-year-old politician said Iraq rejected any violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military’s violation of Iraqi airspace in the assassination airstrike.
Separately on Sunday, an Iraqi security source warned against the sudden increase in the number of US troops deployed to Ain al-Assad air base in the country’s western province of Anbar.
An Iraqi legislator has described the US as the main obstacle to Baghdad’s acquisition of air defence systems to protect its airspace.
‘American forces claim to have partially withdrawn from some bases in Anbar and across Iraq. They aim to disrupt the security situation and raise claims about coronavirus pandemic in order to push out Hashd al-Sha’abi forces (Popular Mobilisation Units) from the areas where they are present,’ the unnamed source told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency in an exclusive interview.
He added, ‘There has been an increase in the number of American forces in Anbar province over the past few days. What is being published about their withdrawal, especially from Ain al-Assad base, is inaccurate.’

  • Turkey has recruited nearly 10,000 allied Takfiri militants to fight in Libya and has sent more than half of them from Syria to the North African country, a London-based war monitor says.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing local sources, reported on Saturday that approximately 7,400 Turkish-backed militants, some of whom non-Syrian nationals, have arrived in Libya so far, and another 2,500 are currently receiving military training in Turkey to be sent there later.
The sources added that the number of militants who supported the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and were killed in clashes with Libyan forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar has now reached 223.
The militants killed were from the so-called and extremist Mu’tasim Division, the Sultan Murad Division, northern Falcons Brigade, the Hamza Division and Sultan Suleyman Shah Brigade.
The Observatory reports that new batches of allied Takfiri militants are about to be sent from Syria to Libya, as the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) is recruiting new members under orders from the Turkish intelligence service.
However, some militant groups have refused to register their fighters in the lists prepared by the FSA, and have had their funds suspended as a result.
The sources highlighted that the measures, together with a series of other restrictions, are meant to compel those groups to capitulate and join the war in Libya.
Two seats of power have emerged in Libya since 2011, when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the overthrow of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi and his execution by Islamist fighters.
Haftar’s force in eastern Libya is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates; whilst the GNA in Tripoli enjoys military backing from Turkey.
A bill passed by the Turkish parliament earlier this year allows the Ankara government to deploy forces to Libya to intervene in the civil war in the North African country.

  • The Iranian government is to list its shares in three banks and two insurance companies to raise over $1 billion in new finances as more public firms launch initial public offering (IPO) in a stock market where trade is booming like never before.

Finance Minister Farhad Dejpassand said on Saturday that the listing for the five government-run entities, which include Bank Mellat, Bank Tejarat, Bank Saderat, Alborz Insurance and Amin Reinsurance, would take place later this week in the Tehran Stock exchange (TSE).
Dejpassand said the five banks and insurers would form an exchange-traded fund (ETF) in a trade that is expected to generate 165 trillion rials (over $1 billion) in new finances for the government.
The listing would come more than two weeks after an IPO for the Iranian government’s largest investment holding, known as Shasta, generated more than $400 million.
The IPOs are part of government plans to use a current boom in the TSE to shore up finances that have been hit by a series of US sanctions.
Dejpassand said IPOs for public companies will continue in the upcoming months with the listing of two major football clubs and several refineries and industrial units.
Meanwhile, Iran’s main stock exchange has recorded its biggest daily jump ever. Trades on Saturday added another $380 million to the Tehran Stock Exchange’s (TSE) total value.
The minister said booming trade in the TSE, where overall value has already exceeded $180 billion, was a good sign for an economy that needs new resources for investment.
He ruled out claims that there is a bubble in trades in the TSE – but a handful of companies listed on the stock market may have offered shares on unrealistic prices.
More than 3.448 billion shares changed hands in the TSE on Saturday, adding nearly $320 million to the value of the market.
The TSE’s overall value exceeded $181 billion on Saturday as main index TEDPIX rose 3.76 per cent to reach 789,820 points.