Friday 26 February 2021
News ID: 87799
Publish Date: 20 February 2021 - 21:39
BAGHDAD (Press TV) – Iraqi officials and religious scholars have lambasted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s latest remarks that the U.S.-led military alliance plans to significantly increase its forces in the Arab country, describing the measure as unacceptable and unjustified.
Amer al-Faez, a member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee, said on Friday that "the increase in the number of NATO forces in Iraq is unjustified,” stressing that the country "does not need any foreign forces.”
"Iraqi security forces are capable of deterring any aggression against the country, and they have proven this during the war against Daesh,” Faez added.
"Therefore, I do not see any need for the presence of any foreign troops, either from NATO or other forces.”
Faez said the Iraqi parliament will inquire the government about its request for an increase in the number of NATO forces, and the reasons why it has circumvented the legislature in this regard.
Stoltenberg told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day virtual NATO defense ministers meeting on February 18 that the Western military alliance will expand its mission in Iraq.
"The size of our mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000 and training activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions and areas beyond Baghdad,” Stoltenberg said.
"Our presence is conditions-based and increases in troop numbers will be incremental,” he added.
The Union of Muslim Scholars in Diyala said any increase in the number of NATO soldiers in Iraq is unacceptable.
"There is no justification for such a move, especially since our country has large forces capable of thwarting any terrorist attack that would undermine the security of people,” the union’s head, Jabbar al-Ma’mouri, told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency on Friday.
"The NATO decision has a multi-faceted agenda, one which is an attempt to occupy Iraq by means of an international alliance formed by America.”
Ma’mouri called on the Baghdad government to clarify its position on the recent NATO announcement.
On Saturday, Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Qassim al-Araji described NATO’s plan to increase the number of its troops in the country as advisory.
"The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is working in Iraq with the consent of the government, and is coordination with it. Its mission is advisory, training and non-combat,” he wrote in a post published on his Twitter page.
"We are cooperating with countries around the world and using their consultative and training experience to strengthen security. No agreement has yet been reached on the number of consultants.”
Anti-U.S. sentiments have been running high in Iraq since the U.S. assassination of Iran’s legendary commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. The two commanders were key figures in the final defeat of Daesh in Iraq in 2017.
Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days later, demanding the expulsion of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
Currently, there are approximately 2,500 American troops in Iraq.


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