On March 31, official military command representative in the Iraqi Nineveh Governorate Colonel Mohammad al-Jaburi reported that representatives of the US armed forces had handed all the military facilities north of Mosul in Nineveh (400 km north of Baghdad) over to the Iraqi army.
March 26 witnessed the largest al- Qayyarah air base (60 km south of Mosul) be transferred to the Iraqi armed forces command. By arrangement with the Iraqis, an artillery division and a unit of American special forces were left at the base. On March 30, the Iraqis got control over the Kirkuk airfield, and before that over the al-Qaim base in the country's western part.
It seems that the Pentagon is frantically rushing to withdraw its troops from the region, justifying these actions with the risk of a mass coronavirus infection among the military. This move is certainly justified. All the more so as Iraq is unlikely to stay immune to the pandemic: the number of people infected is growing at an exponential rate.
But the real cause is different. The headline-making January 2020 attempt on Iran's IRGC special operations head Soleimani in Baghdad entailed a resumption of military activities of the Shiite opposition in the face of militia "detachments of the Iraqi Hezbollah" against Western coalition forces. Over the past two months, Iran-backed Shiite militants have carried out dozens of armed attacks on American and other military targets.
As has always been the case, the first to sound the alarm were Her Majesty's subjects: by mid-January, there were no British troops left in Iraq. The Germans followed the British, and the French followed them. All of them returned to their native heath.
As for the Pentagon, it refrained from haste and handed over American facilities to the Iraqis "as per checklist ", signing decrees and specifying the quality of military equipment left behind. Probably, in order to present a claim to the ally upon return. The US military was successfully evacuated to bases in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Bahrain. On their toes to come back to Iraq as soon as necessary.
In turn, spokesman for "detachments of the Iraqi Hezbollah" Mohammad Mohi said on behalf of his command: "The main reason for reducing the number of American troops is the build-up of popular resistance attacks. These actions will continue with an eye to fully withdraw American or any other foreign troops from the territory of our country."
In turn, the New York Times, citing informed sources in the Pentagon, recently wrote that "detachments of the Iraqi Hezbollah" were Iranian-backed militia formations that pose a real threat to the safety of US military in Iraq. "Therefore, the Pentagon is now reviewing plans to undermine the militia data. Iran, given the difficulties it faces in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, will not be able to provide effective military assistance to the Iraqi Shiite resistance units."
One of the signs that Washington does not intend to weaken its military presence in Iraq is the March 29 deployment of a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery in addition to the existing one in Erbil at the Ayn al-Asad air base (Anbar province) in the west of the country.
Remarkably, the Americans do not even seem to have asked permission of the Iraqi government in this respect. The first battery of the Patriot air defense system in Erbil was delivered to the country and put on combat duty in the second half of March.
So, permuting the summands of a sum does not change the value of the sum...
It is quite possible that Washington is actually maturing plans to suppress Iraqi Shiite armed groups loyal to Iran in order to weaken their military capabilities in Iraq and neighboring Syria at a single blow.