After calls in Baghdad for ejecting American forces

KRG PM: US presence in Kurdistan Region ‘necessary’

NEWSROOM– In an interview with NBC News, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani highlighted the Kurdistan Region’s will to maintain American troops in northern Iraq despite opposition from some Baghdad politicians.

Barzani stated, “Americans have been very supportive in supporting Iraq and fighting terrorism. I wouldn’t call for the withdrawal of the U.S. troops.”

This comes in the wake of condemnation from the Iraqi government over a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Kata’ib Hezbollah commander Abu Baqir Al-Saadi, which it termed “a clear-cut assassination operation.”

Barzani’s comments follow demands by several lawmakers and political figures in Baghdad for a complete pullout of U.S. forces after retaliatory attacks in Iraq and Syria following the killing of three U.S. service personnel in Jordan.

Despite these pressures, he pointed out the persistent challenges and threats in the region, specifically from ISIS, asserting, “The presence of Americans of some sort, and the U.S. would also agree, is necessary.”

He lauded the U.S.’s role in supporting Kurdistan but underscored the urgent need for additional assistance, particularly air defense systems to defend against the escalating missile attacks by Iran-backed militias, a situation exacerbated since the Gaza conflict.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of fighting terrorism. As friends, as allies, we need to be capable enough.”

Barzani says the American calls for a ‘strong Kurdistan’ need to be defined: “We need to define what a strong Kurdistan means. We need to be economically strong, we need to be politically strong, we need to be military strong.

“And, definitely, to be able to protect ourselves against attacks.”

It comes as calls on The Hill and within the Kurdistan Region grow for the provision of air defence systems to help the region fend off strikes by Iran and its proxy militias in Iraq. Iran recently carried out a missile strike on Erbil, killing a prominent local business leader. American troops stationed in the Kurdistan Region have been subjected to dozens of drone attacks since the outbreak of war on the Gaza strip.

“We know the definition of terrorism; it doesn’t matter who is behind these terrorist acts. It’s the act itself we must prevent,” says Barzani. “We definitely need American support, yes.”

Without it, the prime minister says “it would be very challenging, very difficult.”