NATO countries to strengthen mission in Iraq
NATO is expanding its presence in the Middle East. This is in response to the demand of US President Donald Trump to strengthen the Alliance’s role in the fight against terrorism in Iraq. Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared NATO’s readiness to prevent the revival of the Islamic State in the region.
The decision to restart the Iraqi mission of NATO was made at a meeting of defense ministers of the alliance member countries in Brussels on February 12. “We discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa region, crises are a challenge for us,” Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference yesterday at NATO headquarters. “The defense ministers reaffirmed their support for Iraq and agreed to activate our mission in this country.”
We are talking about the continuation and expansion of the NATO training mission, which provides for the training of Iraqi security forces. About 500 advisers and instructors from alliance countries take part in the mission. Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that “NATO is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government”: “All our activities there are in close contact with the Iraqi leadership. The goal of our mission is to increase the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to prevent the return of IS.”
According to the NATO Secretary General, at a meeting on February 12, the Alliance’s defense ministers decided that “we could fight terrorism even more successfully.” Jens Stoltenberg noted that today “we need to do more first within the existing mandate of our mission in Iraq”: “But we are already holding consultations with the Iraqi government on expanding our mission. We just discussed this today.”
The NATO Secretary General also noted that all countries of the alliance supported the proposal that some operations carried out within the framework of the US-led international coalition against IS are transferred to a new format – under NATO control.
In fact, it is today about the North Atlantic Alliance replacing the United States as the leader of the international coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq. Recall that earlier Donald Trump voiced a desire for NATO to play a more active role in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East region. Obviously, the stated reformatting of the Iraqi NATO mission is a reaction to the expectations of the American president.
According to Jens Stoltenberg, “it’s premature to talk yet” about what kind of functionality NATO will take on in the international coalition. Questions about the specific number of troops and the areas that will be taken over by the alliance will be discussed at a meeting of the Alliance’s defense ministers on Friday February 14, and then during a visit by NATO Secretary General to Munich, where Stoltenberg plans to meet with leaders of the international coalition against IS.
Jens Stoltenberg noted that reformatting the Iraqi mission of NATO and strengthening the role of the alliance in the international coalition against IS, will not require additional sanction from official Baghdad: “We are already in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government.”
“We want Iraqi security forces to be able to defend themselves and be able to prevent the return of the Islamic State,” said Jens Stoltenberg. He noted that while the NATO training mission in Iraq has been suspended (this was done in mid-January, after the worsening of relations between the US and Iran), however, “it will resume as soon as possible.” “Iraq is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism,” said the Secretary General of NATO. “The biggest victims in the fight against IS were made by the residents and security forces of Iraq.”
An important role in reformatting the role of NATO in the Middle East region, obviously, has to play the allied countries of the alliance, especially Jordan. According to Jens Stoltenberg, “Jordan is a very close partner of NATO and a partner in the international coalition to combat IS”, with which there is a constant exchange of information through the special services and during joint special operations.To see more about arab politics news.