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US Plans in Iraq Heighten Shiite Fears over Approval of Zurfi Govt.

US Plans in Iraq Heighten Shiite Fears over Approval of Zurfi Govt.

Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 - 12:00
US troops. (Reuters)

Shiite blocs in Iraq, who have been rejecting the designation of Adnan al-Zurfi as the country’s prime minister, are aware that they can no longer bide their time over this issue even as they still cannot make up their mind on endorsing him.

Zurfi’s determination to launch official consultations to form the new government, including his formation of a negotiating team that includes yet undisclosed deputies and political figures, is doubling the concerns of his opponents.

Meanwhile, a new factor has heightened those fears. The Shiite blocs are concerned about what they perceive as US maneuvers on whether to withdraw or redeploy their forces.

Meeting between Shiite blocs opposed to Zurfi are ongoing, but they have yet to reach an agreement on backing his designation in exchange for guarantees on his part. They are also discussing seemingly difficult options, such as nominating the university presidents, and the nearly impossible option of searching for means to overthrow President Barham Salih, whom they hold responsible for the current situation.

These developments took place as US forces began withdrawing from some military bases in Iraq before it later turned out that their actions were part of redeployments and efforts to protect troops from the new coronavirus.

The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS has announced it was making adjustments to its troops in Iraq.

“One year ago, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, in conjunction with our local partners, liberated ISIS’s last remaining stronghold in Baghouz (in Syria) and crushed its territorial ambitions,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

It stressed that nearly eight million people have now been freed from ISIS’s control in Iraq and Syria.

“Many have returned home to rebuild their lives thanks to various forms of Coalition assistance and stabilization support.”

“Progress in our campaign allows for the restructuring of our footprint, without prejudice to our ability to carry out our mission,” the statement read.

“In the meantime, the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the Iraqi and Syrian people, and to our mission, led to temporary adjustments to protect the force during this period, in full coordination with Iraqi authorities.”

It pointed out that work of the Global Coalition is far from complete as ISIS remains a significant threat.

According to the statement, the Global Coalition will continue its comprehensive efforts in Iraq and Syria, and globally, to deny ISIS’s ambitions and the activities of its branches and networks, until the job is done.

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