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Iraqi army chief discusses status of negotiations with international coalition

BAGHDAD — In a recent interview with the Iraqi News Agency, the Iraqi Army’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, emphasized the International Coalition Forces’ serious commitment and responsiveness during the joint high military committee meetings concerning the Iraqi army’s requirements after the Coalition’s mission ended.

Yarallah noted that discussions mainly focused on aerial and intelligence support. He insisted that, on the ground, the Iraqi forces are fully capable of conducting their missions independently, without needing external support or reinforcement.

Yarallah, who leads the high military committee, detailed a 2023 trip to Washington, D.C., alongside the minister of defense and other high-ranking officials. The August visit, centered on several issues, including plans to conclude the International Coalition Forces’ mission in Iraq. “The outcome was an agreement to establish a high committee from both Iraq and the International Coalition Forces to oversee the mission’s conclusion within specific timelines,” he stated.

Upon returning from Washington, “the commander-in-chief of the armed forces [Prime Minister Sudani] ordered the formation of this high committee under my leadership, comprising several officers for a purely military focus, while the Coalition formed a counterpart committee led by the commander of the United States Central Command,” Yarallah added.

He further explained that after the first session chaired by the PM, three committees were formed: one for assessing ISIS terrorism, another for the operational environment regarding operational theaters, and a third focusing on the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces. “We established committees on the Iraqi side for ISIS evaluation, the operational environment, and capabilities,” Yarallah stated.

“The first meeting was held, and last week we had our second meeting, with meetings set to occur every 15 days,” Yarallah shared, indicating that “the meetings are advancing smoothly towards establishing the timelines for concluding the Coalition’s mission in Iraq.”

Yarallah affirmed the Coalition’s serious dedication and responsiveness to Iraq’s needs, stressing that the Coalition’s current role is confined to aerial support without ground military presence. “Our discussions with the International Coalition Forces are centered on aerial and intelligence support,” he said. “Regarding ground operations, we are entirely capable of fulfilling our duties without requiring assistance.”

He concluded that the Iraqi vision involves a full termination of the Coalition’s mission, transitioning to a bilateral partnership based on memoranda of understanding between the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and several Coalition countries. “The military committee’s role is to finalize the International Coalition’s presence, while the establishment of bilateral relations falls to the Ministry of Defense and other ministries,” Yarallah clarified.

He added, “With the United States, we have the Strategic Framework Agreement, which encompasses the security aspect and leads to bilateral memoranda, as well as the elevation of bilateral relations to new levels with countries participating in the International Coalition.”

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