Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh today suggested that his nation was prepared to end its direct military ties with the United States at the end of December, instead relying on private contractors for “training” programs in 2012 and beyond.
“When we buy equipment, there’s a possibility that training could go ahead on ‘commercial’ terms,” Dabbagh insisted, saying Iraq was still willing to discuss a deal “without immunity” for US trainers beyond the date.
Iraq’s political leadership agreed earlier his month that US trainers could stay, but insisted they would be combined to Iraqi military bases and would not be granted immunity from local prosecution. This was quickly condemned by the US, which demanded full immunity for all US troops.
Dabbagh’s comments are aimed at showing the Iraqi government will not easily back down on this position, and sets the stage for what will likely be a war of words as the last few weeks of 2011 continue.