NATO eyes boosting Iraq army training, still needs Iraq's OK

Clay Curtis
February 16, 2020

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a news conference following NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on February 12, 2020.

Stoltenberg said the ministers agreed on the principle of "expanding and scaling up to do more" in Iraq, adding the alliance would work out the details in the coming months.

Prior to the meeting, Stoltenberg held another press conference on Tuesday, touching upon the recent escalation of tensions in Syria's Idlib Province as well as the possible deployment of new anti-missile systems in Europe.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will resume its operations in Iraq, one month after the alliance suspended its mission due to the tension that occurred in the country following the USA attack on an Iranian military leader early January. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ministers, in a two-day meeting will discuss building stability in the Middle East, the Alliance's support for Afghanistan and challenges posed by Russia's missile systems.

Follow Sputnik's Feed to Find Out More! "Everything we do will be in close consultation and coordination with the Iraqi government".

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The NATO chief stressed that alliance had consulted with the Iraqi government and the military alliance would only remain in the country with their consent.

With the USA remaining NATO's most powerful and influential member state, outsourcing the training mission to the alliance may not do much to mollify the Iraqis, wary after repeated violations of their country's "sovereignty and territorial integrity".

NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), made up of several hundred trainers, advisers and support staff from countries of the 29-member alliance and non-NATO partner nations, includes military and civilian personnel.

The January 3 strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani sparked outrage in Baghdad and a vote by the Iraqi parliament to oust all foreign troops - including 5,200 United States soldiers.

"It is extremely important for us that ISIS never returns", Jens Stoltenberg underlined, referring to the "horrendous violence" caused by the terror organization. He said more would be known once he meets with top officials in the anti-IS coalition in Munich, Germany on Friday. The first step would be to expand the training to three more bases in central Iraq. 8 to become more involved with the Middle East after Iran fired missiles at Iraqi bases hosting US troops the day before. A second step, possibly over the summer, would see the mission's mandate changed to take over more activities now handled by the coalition.

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