UPDATE: Sec. Def. Espers Rebukes Letter, Confirms That No Troop Pull Out Planned in Iraq
UPDATE: The Pentagon has weighed in on the report about the troop withdrawal, and has confirmed that the troops will not be leaving Iraq after all.
MORE: Top U.S. general says letter on Iraq troops was a poorly worded, unsigned draft meant to underscore increased levels of troop movements pic.twitter.com/ocICSBuNEV
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 6, 2020
In the wake of the attack in Baghdad that killed Iranian general and terrorist leader, Qasem Soleimani, it is being reported that President Trump is ordering the U.S. Armed Forces to troops out.
“Sir, in deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement,” wrote United States Marine Corps Brigadier General William H. Seely III, the commanding general of Task Force Iraq in the reported letter.
“We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure,” it said.
It is worth noting that the Pentagon has yet to confirm the authenticity of the letter, and there may be a U.S. presence that remains in the nation in some other capacity.
Read the letter here:
AFP & Reuters reporting the U.S.-led coalition sending a letter informing the Iraqi military of a decision to move U.S. forces out of Iraq.
Letters in English & Arabic pic.twitter.com/1HypFAm8Ox
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) January 6, 2020
Previously, President Trump had said that any withdrawal from Iraq was contingent upon the nation paying the U.S. back for the billions invested in the embassy in the nation. He threatened economic sanctions unless the Iraqis were willing to pay up.
“We’ve spent a lot of money in Iraq,” Trump said to reporters aboard Air Force One as he made his way back to Washington after celebrating the Christmas season at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. … We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” he added.
“We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever,” Trump said. “It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”
It remains to be seen if President Trump announces sanctions following this reported removal of forces.
The Iranians continue to escalate following the drone killing of Soleimani, making the possibility of a war seem more likely. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a Twitter post on Monday referencing an Iran Air passenger jet that was shot down by U.S. naval forces in 1988, which resulted in the deaths of 290 people.
Those who refer to the number 52 should also remember the number 290. #IR655
Never threaten the Iranian nation.
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 6, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement today that was very non-committal, urging people to be patient before judging President Trump’s actions.
“We can and we should learn more about the intelligence and thinking that led to this operation and the plan to defend American personnel and interests in the wake of it,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol building following the return from winter break for lawmakers.
“Unfortunately, in this toxic political environment, some of our colleagues rushed to blame our own government before even knowing the facts. Rushed to split hairs about intelligence before being briefed on it,” he added.
Big League Politics will continue to report on this story as it develops.