nsnbc : U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived on an unannounced visit in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday. Mattis’ visit came at a time when different Iraqi coalitions forces are trying to clear Islamic State (ISIL) militants from its major stronghold in the western side of the city of Mosul.
Mattis is expected to meet with top Iraqi government officials and military commanders to discuss bilateral relations and the offensive against the Islamic State in Mosul. His visit in Iraq includes meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other officials, as well as Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who commands the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. Hundreds of U.S. troops are already in Iraq, serving as trainers and advisers while others carry out air strikes within the framework of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL.
The United States has lead a 65-state military coalition fighting ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria since the group took over large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. However, it has also been documented the U.S.-networks and U.S. allies also actively supported ISIL and participated in the invasion of Iraq by ISIL for regional and geopolitical reasons.
That said, the U.S. has also provided military advice and ground backup for the Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling the extremist group out of Mosul, its biggest bastion in Iraq. The United States maintains nearly 5000 troopers in Iraq. It is noteworthy that many top-U.S. politicians and think tanks actively support the establishment of an independent Kurdish State in northern Iraq, dominated by the US-backed and anti-Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Mattis said the U.S. military isn’t in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil. He noted:
“I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future. … We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil ».
Mattis said he aimed to get an up-to-date assessment of the war during his visit to Iraq. His strategy review could lead to additional deployment of U.S. forces, beyond the less than 6,000 American troops deployed to both Iraq and Syria today. Experts say the Pentagon may also focus on other options, like increasing the number of attack helicopters and air strikes and bringing in more artillery.
The military may also seek more authority to make battlefield decisions, allowing commanders to take advantage of opportunities more quickly. Mattis’ visit to Iraq comes as the United States’ military is engulfed in renewed scandals about the use of depleted uranium munitions in the Syrian and Iraqi war theater.
CH/L – nsnbc 20.02.2017