While America is in an uproar of election campaigning, the Associated Press has reported that Iraq and Russia are discussing prospects for deepening military coordination.
The scary news comes amid a strain of Baghdad-Washington relations after a U.S. air strike killed a top Iranian general inside Iraq.
Iraq’s Defense Ministry issued its statement on Thursday, following a meeting in Baghdad between Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Othman Al-Ghanimi and Russian Ambassador Maksim Maksimov, as well as a newly arrived defense attache.
AP reported that the meeting was held during an uncertain moment in the future of Iraq-U.S. military relations, following the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and Iraq senior militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad airport.
The attack prompted powerful Shiite parties to call for an overhaul of the existing strategic set-up between Iraq and the U.S.-led coalition.
Al-Ghanimi praised Moscow’s role in the battle against the Islamic State group, saying they had provided “our armed forces with advanced and effective equipment and weapons that had a major role in resolving many battles,” according to the ministry statement.
As of June 29, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Defense casualty website, there were 4,424 total deaths (including both killed in action and non-hostile) and 31,952 wounded in action (WIA) as a result of the Iraq War.
The ministry statement said that Iraq and Russian sides discussed prospects for “cooperation and coordination.”
Both parties emphasized the importance of exchanging information and coordination to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State.
There was no immediate comment from Moscow.
A senior Iraq military intelligence official told the AP that Russia, among other countries, has come forward to offer military support in the wake of fraught U.S.-Iraq relations following Soleimani’s killing.
“Iraq still needs aerial reconnaissance planes. There are countries that have given signals to Iraq to support us or equip us with reconnaissance planes such as Russia and Iran,” said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.
President Donald J. Trump two days after his acquittal by the Senate recalled Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union (E.U.), just hours after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council (N.S.C.) was ordered out of the White House on Friday.
Both provided key information about Trump during public hearings.
Trump has often touted his warm relationship with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president.
At the end of December, the Russians released a three-paragraph statement after the two heads of government talked by phone. The statement said they discussed a foiled terrorist plot in Russia and improved U.S.-Russian relations, but neither government put out much detail on their weekend conversation.