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NATO and the Coalition against Daesh suspend their activities in Iraq. Too dangerous

(B2) The renewed tensions in Iraq are such, after the execution by an American drone of Iranian General Q. Soleimani and several Shiite militia leaders, that NATO has decided to suspend its training activities for Iraqi forces. . Ditto for the coalition against Daesh which also suspends all operations against the terrorist organization

A Spanish instructor speaks with his Iraqi counterpart, using an interpreter, during training, in April 2019 (credit: NATO)

A meeting of the North Atlantic Council (the NAC, which brings together the ambassadors of the 29 member countries) was urgently convened this Monday afternoon in Brussels to discuss the situation in Iraq. At the end of the meeting, the Secretary General of the Alliance, the Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, made some comments to the press which B2 listened carefully.

First purpose of the meeting: to have explanations

During the meeting, the Alliance's ambassadors were 'briefed' by both a representative of the US State Department and a representative of the Pentagon. Americans' objective: to demonstrate that this strike was a response to an imminent threat to American personnel. This justified that not all the Allies had been taken into the confidence before the attack. Apparently convincing briefing, since in the opinion of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, all Allies expressed their “ worry » and called on Iran to “ refrain from further violence and provocation ».

A decision specific to the Americans that the Allies support

However, Jens Stoltenberg wanted to underline the non-responsibility of the Atlantic Alliance in this action. Questioned several times by several colleagues, he indicated that this decision was taken, “ neither by the coalition nor NATO “, but by the Americans. However, the Allies share with the Americans their " concern » regarding Iran's destabilizing activities in the region or its support for different terrorist groups.

NATO training mission suspended

As for the NATO training mission in Iraq, the ambassadors of the 29 member states endorsed the emergency decision taken this weekend and announced by one of the spokespersons for the Alliance. “ NATO's mission continues "particularly for the board, " but training activities are currently suspended “said Jens Stoltenberg.

The safety of engaged soldiers

This decision is taken for an imperative: the safety of the some 500 soldiers participating in the mission (1), described as " primordial ". " We continue to take all necessary precautions », Adds NATO headquarters, without specifying whether the troops will remain in the country or will be withdrawn.

A temporary suspension

The Secretary General of the Alliance is optimistic. The suspension is only temporary he says. " We are ready to restart as soon as the security situation on the ground allows it. In addition to the security problem, there is also a legal question. " We are here at the invitation of the Iraqi authorities recalls J. Stoltenberg.

Foreign troops more welcome in Iraq?

On Sunday, during an extraordinary session, the Iraqi Parliament demanded that the government ask foreign troops to leave the country. This motion, of course, is only optional. But it reflects well the mood of at least some of Iraqi political leaders. It could weigh on minds both within the Iraqi government and in the countries participating in the operation (2).

The international coalition takes the same path

The international coalition against Daesh, led by the United States, is also idling. American personnel have been relocated to ensure the protection of national infrastructures on site. " Training and action against Daesh has been suspended, the first priority going to the protection of coalition personnel “, indicates a press release from the coalition.

Comment: In fact, even if their leaders want to be optimistic, the missions of NATO and the coalition against Daesh are grounded in Iraq, rendered ineffective. The need for the Americans to deploy as many troops as possible to protect their holds, as well as the (real) fear of a suicide attack by Iraqi personnel who would turn their weapons against their American or Western mentors, overcame all motivation. If this situation were to continue, it is feared that several countries would prefer to repatriate their troops rather than see their military condemned to inaction (at best), or to serve as targets.

(Leonor Hubaut, with NGV)

  1. Since October 2018, NATO's training and advisory mission in Iraq has been training Iraqi forces to support them in the fight against Daesh (read: NATO launches small train and advise mission in Iraq)
  2. A situation monitored very closely, particularly in Canada, which provides a good part of the mission's personnel (250 personnel) and the command. " We continue to monitor and assess the situation. We remain in close coordination with our international partners said Todd Lane, spokesman for Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, according to the Canadian press.

Leonor Hubaut

© B2 - Bruxelles2 is a French online media that focuses on political Europe (powers, defence, foreign policy, internal security). It follows and analyzes developments in European policy, unvarnished and without concessions. Approved by the CPPAP. Member of SPIIL. Please quote "B2" or "Bruxelles2" in case of recovery Leonor Hubaut is a journalist. Graduated in international relations from the Free University of Brussels (specialization in globalization). She covers for B2 the work of the European Parliament, CSDP missions and African issues. Sahel specialist.