A number of prominent political figures and members of the Iraqi parliament have spoken out against the US’ military presence in the country, with a senior adviser to Iraqi cleric Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr slamming it as an “occupation of the country.”
The US is planning to open a new military airbase in Iraq near the town of al-Qa’im in Anbar Province, the local news outlet BasNews has reported. The province borders Syria, where the US Air Force is still conducting airstrikes without the authorization of Damascus and that has led to civilian casualties on multiple occasions. The new base will work jointly with two other bases in the province — Ain al-Assad and Habbaniya
The news comes amid demands by various political figures in Iraq for the US to pull out from the country. In March 2018, the Iraqi parliament asked the government to come up with a deadline for the withdrawal US troops, while Diyaa Assadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won in the recent parliamentary elections, has said that the US is seen “as an occupying country.”
At the same time, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai has reported that another US military base is planned for construction in Kuwait. According to the newspaper, it will be a major air hub near the international airport and will serve as a logistical supply point.
The US has been conducting airstrikes in Syria and Iraq since the emergence of Daesh*. Although Washington claims to only be fighting against terrorist groups, many of its airstrikes have led to civilian casualties. While the Iraqi government has given a green light for US forces to conduct operations on its soil, the latter are operating without authorization in Syria, neither from the government in Damascus, nor from the UN Security Council.