By Daily Wire. The United States military has informed Iraq this week that it is preparing to “move out” of the country, according to an official letter. . .
President Donald Trump stated over the weekend that if Iraq forces the U.S. military to leave that it will be hit very tough sanctions.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there,” Trump said of Iraq. “It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” Trump continued. “If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.” (Read more from “Report: U.S. Forces Preparing Rapid Withdrawal out of Iraq” HERE)
‘Mistake’: Pentagon Says Iraq Withdrawal Letter Was Not Authorized
By Politico. The Pentagon on Monday disputed that U.S. troops are preparing to withdraw from Iraq — after a leaked letter from a U.S. general suggested plans are underway to prepare troops to leave following the Iraqi Parliament’s Sunday vote calling for their removal.
The misfire added yet another layer of confusion to an already murky situation days after the region erupted in response to the U.S. drone attack that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. It also raised new questions about the Pentagon’s intentions as it faces new threats from Iranian militias in Iraq even as it seeks to defeat the remnants of the Islamic State terrorist group.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the usual step of holding an impromptu question-and-answer session with reporters at the Pentagon after media outlets reported a top US. general on Monday informed an Iraqi counterpart that American personnel are initiating steps for a possible withdrawal. . .
But Milley, agreeing the letter was a “mistake,” told reporters it was only a draft and had not been sent. He said he had just spoken to Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, about it.
UPDATE: Milley just came back down. Says he just got off the phone with Gen. Mckenzie of @CENTCOM – bottom line is letter was a mistake – it was a draft letter that got sent around for coordination purposes. But there is no US troop movement out of Iraq. https://t.co/m10AYs87P3
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) January 6, 2020
(Read more from “‘Mistake’: Pentagon Says Iraq Withdrawal Letter Was Not Authorized” HERE)
U.S. Informs Iraqi Government About Repositioning of Coalition Forces
By NPR. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced on Monday that some forces are being repositioned inside Iraq, not leaving the country.
Two other U.S. officials told NPR that some are going to Kuwait temporarily.
The troop movement — signaled by heavy helicopter traffic out of a U.S. base in central Baghdad — was coupled with confusion about a letter sent by the U.S. military to Iraqi officials. That letter said the movements were in response to the Iraqi call for U.S. forces to leave the country, and the letter implied a withdrawal was underway. Late Monday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the letter was “poorly worded.” . . .
The Pentagon press office underscored the message, saying in a tweet, “There has been no change in US policy with regard to our force presence in Iraq. We continue to consult with the Iraqi government regarding the defeat-ISIS mission and efforts to support the Iraqi Security Forces.”
There has been no change in US policy with regard to our force presence in Iraq. We continue to consult with the Iraqi government regarding the defeat-ISIS mission and efforts to support the Iraqi Security Forces.
— Alyssa Farah (@PentagonPresSec) January 6, 2020
(Read more from “U.S. Informs Iraqi Government About Repositioning of Coalition Forces” HERE)