US Seeks to Deploy More Troops to Iraq to Ensure ‘Its Interests Are Maintained’

  • Written by:

© AP Photo/ Mahmoud al-Samarrai Middle East 18:33 22.09.2016Get short URL 339409 The US military wants to send up to 500 soldiers to Iraq in order to help the country’s forces regain control of the city of Mosul, the last major stronghold of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq.

If approved, this move will effectively increase the number of US troops deployed in the country to 4,900, though it should be noted that Washington insists that these soldiers are not involved in the direct fight with the jihadist group and are simply on an advise-and-assist mission.

Renad Mansour, El-Erian fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, told Radio Sputnik the US Congress has so far been reluctant to approve sending troops to Iraq, considering that it only withdrew US forces from Iraq a few years ago; this development prompted the White House to circumvent the need for congressional approval by claiming that the troops deployed to Iraq were sent there on an advise-and-assist missions and not to directly engage in combat operations. Furthermore, it remains unclear exactly how prudent it would be for the Congress to approve this measure considering the fact that the “Obama administration is wrapping up its presidency”, he added. “What is very clear is that the Obama administration wants to increase its offensive in both Mosul, Iraq as well as in Syria to at least showcase an effort to combat the Islamic State [Daesh in Arabic] in both areas before the end of the term,” Mansour said. He added that while being deployed on an advise-and-assist mission somewhat limits the scope of actions the US troops may possibly undertake, they will at least be able to provide the US leadership with a better understanding of what is going on in the area, as well as to help maintain US interests there, especially considering the fact that the forces poised to liberate Mosul are in fact a loose coalition of different groups and factions, including the Iraqi government troops, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militias and the like. “There’s a lot of different actors, and this is the way I suppose for the US to also have its presence on the ground to be able to see what’s going on and to be able to ensure that in any sort of power vacuum that emerges after the Islamic State [Daesh in Arabic] is removed that the US has its interests maintained,” Mansour explained. He also remarked that this development also appears to be an attempt by the Obama administration to “go out on a high”, and while it by no means will be a case for raising a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner, its members at least want to be able to say that they started a battle that put an end to the Daesh presence in Mosul. “It is important to remember that Mosul is a very symbolic city. It was only after the Islamic State [Daesh in Arabic] captured Mosul that it was able to declare its caliphate. So it is a very symbolic battle and Obama wants to at least showcase himself as starting that process,” Mansour said.

Read more: