Feb 20, 2021 20:00 UTC
  • Iraqi officials, scholars protest NATO plan to increase troops in Iraq eightfold

Iraqi officials and religious scholars have lambasted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s latest remarks that the US-led military forces plan to significantly increase its forces in the Arab country, describing the measure as unacceptable and unjustified.

Amer al-Faez, a member of the Iraqi Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, said on Friday that “the increase in the number of NATO forces in Iraq is unjustified,” stressing that the country “does not need any foreign forces.”

“Iraqi security forces are capable of deterring any aggression against the country, and they have proven this during the war against Daesh,” Faez added.

“Therefore, I do not see any need for the presence of any foreign troops, either from NATO or other forces.”

Faez said the Iraqi parliament will inquire the government about its request for an increase in the number of NATO forces, and the reasons why it has circumvented the legislature in this regard.

Stoltenberg told reporters at the conclusion of a two-day virtual NATO defense ministers meeting on February 18 that the Western military alliance will expand its mission in Iraq.

“The size of our mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000 and training activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions and areas beyond Baghdad,” Stoltenberg said.

“Our presence is conditions-based and increases in troop numbers will be incremental,” he added.

The Union of Muslim Scholars in Diyala said any increase in the number of NATO soldiers in Iraq is unacceptable.

"There is no justification for such a move, especially since our country has large forces capable of thwarting any terrorist attack that would undermine the security of people,” the union’s head, Jabbar al-Ma’mouri, told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency on Friday.

Ma’mouri called on the Baghdad government to clarify its position on the recent NATO announcement.