Recently, a huge unrest was created after a leaked letter from a top commander in Iraq suggested the US troops’ withdrawal from the country along with some other conditions. The US Army General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mark Milley has stood to ease off the situations.
The document was an unsigned draft of a memo from the US Command in Baghdad, notifying the Iraqi government that some of the US forces in the country would be repositioned. It also suggested the removal of American forces from the country, respecting the Iraqi parliament’s decision.
“We respect your sovereign authority to order our departure,” the letter’s last line declared.
The release of the letter bewildered the military officials in Washington and Baghdad, who ran out of answers in regards to its accuracy. Some of the US officials in Baghdad said the letter was authentic but failed to answer upon the troops withdrawal.
It even brought huge confusions amongst the Iraqis, many of whom lacking clarity, feared for their lives in absence of the US troops.
The move came after the Iraqi parliament voted to force the government towards the removal of the US and other foreign troops present in the country. Though President Trump threatened to impose more sanctions if such an action was to befell, it appears that Iraq has found the letter’s release as a method to have its own way.
Fear plays an important role here, as Iraq was once dominated by IS extremists for a long time and it was only after the US’ invasion that the terror threats were diminished to a great extent. Presence of the US troops in Iraq was thereby a prototype of its victory over terrorism.
Mark Milley tried to resolve the commotion created over the letter, saying, “It was sent over to some key Iraqi military guys to get things coordinated for air movements.”
But at a time, when the government and military are continuously questioned over the death of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, the release of the letter, be it by mistake, has only added to their hardships.
The US that appeared to have been winning in war-like situations, is now in grave trouble, with Iraq and Iran both making moves to avenge Soleimani’s death.
Speaking about the letter at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday said, “We are repositioning forces throughout the region. That letter is inconsistent of where we are right now.”
Since Esper’s statements failed to clear the mist of confusions at the Pentagon, Mark Milley resorted to clarify. He said, “That letter is a draft. It was a mistake, it was unsigned, it should not have been released … (it was) poorly worded, implies withdrawal, that is not what’s happening.”
“It’s an honest mistake … it should not have been sent” he added.
While suspecting the Iraqis for releasing the copy of the unsigned letter, Milley said that the letter as a draft was shared with the Iraqi military for the purposes of coordination and was never sent as a formal memorandum. But it was leaked by someone, who had access to Iraqi military’s data.
Mark Milley also cleared the air upon the troops’ withdrawal from Iraq stating that the US had not ordered for any such thing, though there is a possibility that the troops could be repositioned from one place to another, which is standard.
Maintaining American troops’ presence in Iraq has costed billions of dollars to the US. But, what it gets in return is a combined feeling of revenge from the Iraqis. What Iraqi parliament did in the past few days poses several questions on the kind of help provided to them. Are they really that ungrateful? Or is it the death of General Soleimani in Baghdad that has made them to abandon the US and follow Iranian footprints?