Pentagon Denies Iraq Requested Withdrawal, PM Reiterates US Must Leave

Iraq PM says received letter from US Army on withdrawal, wants clarification

Despite Sunday’s 170-0 vote in the Iraqi parliament to expel US troops from the country, the Pentagon is looking to avoid getting into a whole thing with the legality of the continued presence by arguing they never got a request to leave in the first place.

It’s not that Iraq has been vague on the matter, and after Tuesday’s Iranian missile strikes on US targets, there is even more of an Iraqi interest in getting rid of the US before they end up hosting a war between those two.

The US was aware enough that the Army was drafting a letter to Iraq affirming the troop pullout. Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi says Iraq has received that letter, in English and Arabic, despite the US saying it wasn’t intended to be sent yet.

The Pentagon says that the letter was poorly worded and not meant to imply a withdrawal, even though it fairly directly affirmed Iraqi sovereignty over the matter. Abdul-Mahdi says the only problem they had was that the English and Arabic versions were not identical and they want clarification of which was right.

Either way, Abdul-Mahdi wanted to offer some clarification of his own, that the Iraq’s decision to expel the US troops was “necessary,” and that he wants to avoid escalation between the US and Iran on Iraqi soil.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.