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US lawmakers push to repeal 19-year-old war authorization against Iraq

Chairman of US House Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks (File photo by AP)

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee has moved to repeal the 19-year-old authorization for the use of military force in Iraq, weeks after US senators introduced bipartisan legislation to take back the White House’s authorization for the use of military force in the Middle East.

The measure, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, scraps the 2002 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against Iraq, which was issued when former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was in power.

A similar move is already in motion in the US Senate, which was proposed by Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and Republican Senator Todd Young, who are pushing to repeal the AUMF, as well as a 1991 measure that also authorized military force in Iraq.

US, Iraq set to discuss US troop withdrawal

The US is slated to resume strategic talks with Iraqi officials next month regarding the status of its combat forces, as Washington and Baghdad are expected to set the tone for the relationship between the two countries in the coming years.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the talks will be an important opportunity to discuss the two countries’ mutual interests across a range of fields from security to culture, trade and climate.

“The meetings will further clarify that coalition forces are in Iraq solely for the purpose of training and advising Iraqi forces to ensure that Daesh cannot reconstitute,” Psaki added.

Talks between the US and Iraq began in June 2020 under the Trump administration. But the upcoming talks are the first under the Biden administration.

Earlier, Iraqi officials confirmed sending an official request to the US to schedule a series of meetings over bilateral relations and the withdrawal of remaining US combat forces.

On Thursday, a number of armed Iraqi groups took to the streets of the capital Baghdad in a show of force, demanding the expulsion of all foreign forces from Iraq. The move was lauded by Iraqis in social media networks.

US intensifies airstrikes in Iraq

The US-led coalition reportedly conducted more airstrikes in Iraq this month than it did all of last year, with coalition jets carrying out more than 150 raids which they said targeted the Daesh terrorists in the mountains south of Mosul. This is while the coalition conducted fewer than 120 airstrikes in Iraq all of last year.

“The mission was to destroy Daesh hiding out in some tough terrain of caves and tunnels, ostensibly the last redoubt of the so-called caliphate,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the military coalition.

Last month, Biden ordered his first illegal military strike inside Syria to target the facilities of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a move some analysts said propped up Daesh. The US attack killed one and wounded four others.

Trump also ordered strikes against Syria and Iraq. In January 2020, the former US president ordered the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad. The high-profile assassination prompted the Iraqi parliament to call for the expulsion of US forces from their country.

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