Lloyd Austin – The American press made a surprising statement on Tuesday, revealing that a senior White House official had arrived in Baghdad.
They followed US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on an unannounced visit to Iraq, when he stated that US forces stationed there were ” ready to remain in Iraq.”
Lloyd Austin is the highest-ranking Cabinet official to visit Baghdad since the commencement of the Biden administration in 2020.
Austin, according to the press pool, issued a statement confirming his presence in Iraq.
Austin’s presence is intended to reinforce the US-Iraq strategic alliance as it works to build “a more secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq.”
Lloyd Austin’s visit to Baghdad comes only days before the 20th anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq to depose tyrant Saddam Hussein.
“We’re deeply committed to ensuring that the Iraqi people can live in peace and dignity, with safety and security and with economic opportunity for all,” said Austin.
“We’ll continue to harness the professionalism of the coalition’s diplomats and assistance experts and warfighters, as well as the incredible professionals in the NATO mission here.”
“We’ll continue to increase interoperability among our allies and partners, and we’ll continue working to accomplish this mission together.”
“Now, looking forward, US forces are ready to remain in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq,” continued Austin.
“And these forces are operating in a non combat, advise, assist, and enable role to support the Iraqi-led fight against terrorism.”
“This is a critical mission. And we’re proud to support our Iraqi partners.”
“We’re focused on the mission of defeating Daesh, and we are here for no other purpose, and threats or attacks on our forces only undermine that mission.”
The fight against ISIS
Iraq is a critical ally in the United States’ continuing fight to demolish ISIS.
The present campaign, on the other hand, is one-of-a-kind.
In Syria, American soldiers collaborated with the Syrian Democratic Forces and other allies.
Following the formal end of the combat operation in Iraq in 2021, the US military will provide advice and assistance.
“The United States will continue to strengthen and broaden our partnerships in support of Iraqi security, stability, and sovereignty,” said Austin.
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Lloyd Austin sat down with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani for a discussion.
On his visit to Baghdad, Austin is anticipated to speak with other top authorities.
According to Lloyd Austin’s press pool, his encounter with Iraq’s prime minister was not recorded on video.
Meanwhile, al-Sudani welcomed Austin’s visit, marking the continuation of collaboration with the US.
The creation of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s administration ended months of political gridlock and occasionally violent demonstrations.
During their discussion, al-Sudani told Lloyd Austin that Iraq is keen to develop and cement its relations with the US, according to the prime minister’s office.
Iraq will be crucial in the United States’ efforts to limit Iranian influence in the region.
Iran has already sought to assert authority over Iraq through proxy troops and Tehran’s influence in Baghdad Shia political organizations.
Prior to al-Sudani’s recent ascension to the position of Prime Minister, Shia Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was a front-runner to take over the government following the recent elections.
Al-Sadr was outspoken in his opposition to both Iran and the United States.
Nevertheless, resistance from competing parties contributed to his inability to build a government.
Finally, al-Sadr’s failure presented an opening for al-Sudani, who has demonstrated a desire to strengthen Baghdad’s ties with the United States, notably Washington.
After his visit to Baghdad, Lloyd Austin flew to Erbil, the northern Kurdish regional capital of Iraq.
He met with Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region and the Commander in Chief of the Region’s Military Forces.
Nechirvan Barzani and Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of American assistance for Iraq and the Kurdish region during a joint news conference.
Barzan underlined similar interests and ideals, drawing the two closer.
Lloyd Austin emphasized the US-Kurdish Peshmerga collaboration to improve counterterrorism in the fight against ISIS.
“Through the Global Coalition to Defeat Daash (ISIS), we liberated more than 50,000 square kilometers from Daash (ISIS) and we freed more than 4.5 million Iraqis from their cruel grip,” said Austin.
Image source: The Hill