The Iraqi government has given NATO the green light to stay in the country, the alliance’s chief said Thursday, weeks after Iraq demanded foreign forces leave the country over the U.S. killing of Iran’s top general near the Baghdad airport.
Prodded by U.S. President Donald Trump to do more in the wider Middle East, NATO has been developing plans to expand its training effort in Iraq, where it was helping build up the Iraqi army and provide security advice to government ministries until it was suspended over the drone strike.
“The government of Iraq has confirmed to us their desire for a continuation of the NATO training, advising and capacity building activities for the Iraqi armed forces,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels during a meeting of allied defense ministers.
“We will only stay in Iraq as long as we are welcome,” he added.
NATO’s Canada-led training mission was launched in 2018 and involves about 500 troops. The plan now is to move hundreds of trainers working with the international force fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq over to that mission. Unlike the international coalition, NATO’s training effort does not involve combat operations.[…]
Despite Trump’s insistence that NATO step up, there is little appetite among European allies and Canada to deploy additional troops to the potentially volatile region — beyond the Iraq training effort — even though the U.S. is by far the biggest and most influential of the 29 NATO member countries. Läs artikel