January 25, 2020
The administration of US President Donald Trump is looking to enhance its military presence on the Syrian-Iraqi border for a range of reasons, mainly to “confront Iran.”
The US presence in Iraq was a main item on the agenda of two separate meetings held by Trump with his Iraqi and Kurdistan Region counterparts, respectively Barham Salih and Nechirvan Barzani on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
However, there were conflicting positions following the meetings. The White House stressed the “ongoing economic and security partnership with Iraq” and cooperation with Kurdistan in the war against ISIS, while Salih spoke about his country’s “sovereignty.”
Western officials told Asharq Al-Awsat that Washington has made a 10-point proposal to deal with the demands of Iraqi politicians on the pullout of US forces from the country while taking the necessary measures to confront Iran.
The first point confirms what James Jeffrey, Trump’s special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, said two days ago. “Any conversations that the Iraqis want to have with us about the United States in Iraq, we believe, should and must cover the entire gamut of our entire relationship, which goes way beyond our forces,” he stated.
Other proposals include pushing NATO to play a larger role in fighting ISIS, discussing the increase of military bases and troops with the presidency of the Kurdistan Region, protecting the Tanf base near the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border and cutting off access to the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut road.
Among the other US suggestions are considering the coalition’s presence in the airspace of northeast Syria as necessary to fight ISIS, preventing Syrian forces and Iranian groups from advancing to the Tanf base, keeping Russian forces away from the line stretching from the Faysh Khabur to the north of Bukamal on the Euphrates River.