The newly launched ‘NATO Mission in Iraq’ has a clear geo-political underpinning to it which aims to disturb the delicate edifice of peace that Russia, Turkey and Iran have been building for last two years or so. Although the new mission has been announced at a time when the US president has already announced a potential withdrawal of US troops from Syria, the new mission rather explains the counter-narrative of ‘no policy change’ that the various US officials have been building ever since Trump’s announcement of troop withdrawal. The new NATO Mission in Iraq is thus a plan according to which the US is going to shift its base of regional geo-politics from Syria, where the Russians, Turks and Iranians have already established their own stronghold, to Iraq, a country that has still not recovered from the damages inflicted on it first by the US invasion and then by ISIS. Iraq, accordingly, is going to become the new theatre of regional geo-politics.
Its first glimpse came in December last year when NATO Mission in Iraq organized an “introduction Event” at the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, where, as the press release they issued showed, a “new iteration of a long-standing relationship” between NATO and Iraq, one that will bring together “expertise and best practice in security/defence sector reform, institution building and training and education from the entire Alliance and its partners” was put forward to various “key leaders from across the Iraqi Security and Defence sector. They included the Iraqi Chief of Staff, General Othman Al-Ghanimi.” Representatives from other various international entities and organizations such as the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the European Union Advise Mission in Iraq, the United Nations Assistance Mission Iraq, and the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq and Diplomatic Missions were also present.
Unsurprisingly, the new mission has been endorsed by the Iraqi military command, leading Trump to make a “surprise visit” to a US military base in Iraq, situated between the borders of Iraq and Syria, symbolising how the US was not just shifting its focus from Syria to Iraq, but also how the US would be dealing with Syria—and in Syrian with Russia, Turkey and Iraq—from its military bases in Iraq.
Accordingly, it was quite unsurprising to see Donald Trump “changing his mind” about the region after his Christmas visit to Iraq.