FAST FIVE: France, Czechs, & Other US Allies Exit Iraq Over COVID-19 Fears
France, Czechs, & Other US Allies Exit Iraq Over COVID-19 Fears The United States has shown itself willing to both keep up its 'maximum pressure' campaign on Iran and its proxies while riding roughshod over Iraqi sovereignty by remaining in the country even as Baghdad leaders and the broader population demand a final exit. But in another sign Europe is ready to divorce itself from US aims in the region, France has abruptly withdrawn its forces from the country after being there for five years.
Interestingly the prime reason given was troop safety concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, but we imagine European leaders likely now see an opportunity to make a swift and easy exit without provoking the ire of their US counterparts.
But as the US mission to defeat the Islamic State has lately become less relevant given the demise of the terror group, Washington's focus became Iranian influence inside Iraq – far beyond the original mission scope.
The US itself had been reportedly drawing down from certain bases, but is not expected to ultimately depart given the current high state of tensions with Iran-backed militias in the country.
Magnier (@ejmalrai) March 25, 2020 But Iran and Iraq's 'counter-pressure' campaign is only set to continue, as on Thursday two rockets slammed into the Iraqi capital's high-security Green Zone early in the morning, in an incident that's become almost a monthly occurrence.