The United States military has resumed operations with coalition forces in Iraq, despite the nation’s parliament voting to expel American soldiers from the region, just ten days ago.
Tensions flared between Iraq and the U.S. after President Trump ordered a deadly drone strike against Iranian Gen. Qassam Soleiman earlier this month, while he was at Baghdad International Airpot. Iraq claimed its sovereignty had been violated and took swift action in calling for all U.S. armed forces to leave the country,
Two American military officials spoke to The New York Times on condition of anonymity and confirmed that joint operations had been restarted, in an effort to stifle any momentum gained by the Islamic state during the recent upheaval.
It has yet to be confirmed if the Iraqi government was privy to the U.S. decision to resume operations or if it was done unilaterally.
Iraq’s acting prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, seemingly changed his tune on Wednesday in a speech to his cabinet, after vehemently opposing any further occupation by Ameican forces.
“We have no exit but this, otherwise we are speeding toward confrontation,” he initially said in a prerecorded televised speech earlier this month. This clashed with his later assessment that the final decision would come from the government as a whole, not just parliament.
“If we reach the decision to get the forces out of Iraq, then this would be the decision of the Iraqi government,” Abdul Mahdi said. He also spoke of “an appropriate timeline” for troop withdrawal and warned of a possible ISIS resurgence.
In a television interview with Laura Ingraham on “The Ingraham Angle” last week, Trump said Iraq should repay the United States for the investments it made in the country over the past several years if it wants American troops to vacate.
“I said, ‘If we leave, you got to pay us,'” he said. “‘If we leave … you have to pay us for the money we put in.'”
Trump also claimed the U.S. government has access to billions of dollars in Iraqi money and remains confident that a deal can be worked out.
“Well, we have a lot of their money right now. We have a lot of their money. We have $35 billion of their money right now sitting in an account,” the president added. “And I think they’ll agree to pay. I think they’ll agree to pay. Otherwise, we’ll stay there.”