Ammar al-Hakim, the head of Iraq’s Shiite ruling coalition, has said during his visit to Tehran that the Baghdad government will reduce the number of American military advisors and their role after the liberation of Mosul. “We emphasize that we oppose the presence of their military forces the same way we opposed foreign military bases on the Iraqi soil,” Hakim said in an interview with Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.). “Even at the peak of the battle against Daesh [Islamic State] and urgent need for foreign assistance, the Iraqis indeed did not seek the burden of the presence of foreign militaries and did not accept a single foreign soldier. Today, it is a matter of pride for the Iraqis that they liberated Iraq by relying on themselves.” He further elaborated: “Yes, we used the assistance and air support of coalition fighter jets. But in the meantime, we did not allow these fighter planes to even operate from military bases inside the Iraqi territory. And they were using their bases in Iraq’s neighbors to target Daesh positions.” He said that Iraq will continue intelligence sharing with the U.S.-led coalition and seek the U.S. help in training and equipping the Iraqi security forces, but added that his country would not need the current number of foreign military advisors in the near future. After the end of the Mosul battle, we will no longer need their surveillance and reconnaissance air missions and air strikes on the Iraqi soil,” he added.
Comment: The senior Iraqi politician made the remarks during his trip to Tehran. Earlier this week, Hakim, who is also the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq political party, held meetings with senior Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Tehran has recently been pressuring the Baghdad government not to allow American forces to stay in Iraq after the battle of Mosul is over. When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Tehran two weeks ago, Khamenei told him that he opposed the presence of American forces in Iraq and urged the Iraqi leader not to rely on Washington. “Do not trust the Americans under any circumstances because they are waiting for an opportunity to do harm,” Khamenei said. Several Iranian-backed commanders of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces have also called on the Baghdad government to limit the role of the U.S. military in Mosul operations and to “expel” U.S. troops after the defeat of the Islamic State.