To avert a 'Benghazi scenario'

Baghdad prepares for talks with DC on US troop withdrawal

Baghdad – Khaled al-Yaqoubi, the Security Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister, announced that Baghdad will host comprehensive negotiations with Washington on Sunday 11 Feb, focusing on the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Al-Yaqoubi recalled discussions with Pentagon officials in recent months and conversations during the Trump administration with Iraqis amid the protests that engulfed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2019. During those discussions, the President emphasized preventing a repeat of the Benghazi scenario where the U.S. ambassador was killed in 2012.

In an interview with the Iraqi state channel, al-Yaqoubi stated, “Iraq is determined to proceed with the dialogue on the withdrawal of foreign forces, despite all complications and conflicts in the region. We have no choice but to move forward under all circumstances.”

The Prime Minister, Mr. Al-Sudani, opened the first round of talks, and the second round or the expanded session is scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday). Al-Yaqoubi emphasized that Iraq cannot stand idle when faced with threats from various sides, asserting that all attacks on Iraq are unacceptable and condemned. However, this does not mean dialogue should be dismissed as there is no alternative but to engage in talks.

“Before and after the recent American assault, the government made numerous decisions away from the media spotlight due to their sensitive and security-related nature, leading to the continuation of dialogue sessions and our path forward,” al-Yaqoubi added.

He highlighted that during their visit to Washington, they warned the United States against unilateral actions, reminding them of the 2019 incident when such actions led to a crisis and the U.S. Embassy was besieged. Trump’s intervention at the time was to protect the diplomatic mission and to prevent a recurrence of the Libya scenario where the U.S. ambassador was killed in Benghazi. Al-Yaqoubi noted that unilateral actions affect both parties negatively.

Al-Yaqoubi also mentioned the importance of the Kurdish Regional Government understanding a clear fact within the friendly atmosphere between the central government and the regional government, that decisions taken by the central government regarding Iraq’s security include the Kurdistan Region as part of the system, especially since the President of the Republic, the Foreign Minister, and the Chief of Staff of the Peshmerga, who were part of the security delegation in negotiations with the U.S., are Kurds, highlighting the need for a unified Iraqi stance.