Addressing the Iraqi parliament’s call last week for a specific timeline for all foreign troops to withdraw from Iraq, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg there were no plans at present to leave Iraq, and that troops would stay “as long as necessary.”
Stoltenberg’s assessment wasn’t couched as defiance, however, nor did he take the US position that the deployment in permanent. Rather, he claimed NATO had gotten a written request from Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi to keep its troops in the country.
Details on this written request are unclear, and indeed its existence wasn’t even made public until now. It is likely that a similar request exists for US troops within Iraq as well, given how reliant on overseas deployments Abadi was during the ISIS fight.
Iraqi parliament’s statement suggests that they weren’t apprised of this request either, and that inevitably raises the question of whether Abadi is empowered to unilaterally give permission for open-ended foreign deployments, a question that’s likely to be raised among Iraqi MPs as the deployments get further and further past the end of the ISIS conflict.