Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, hinted at a possible expansion of NATO’s mission in Iraq following a meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
As part of al-Kadhimi’s Europe tour which began earlier this week, the Prime Minister met with Secretary-General Stoltenberg to discuss NATO’s presence and the scope of its mission in Iraq.
The PM announced that Iraq will continue to fight against terrorism but needs sustained aid from NATO in the form of training, armament, and intelligence support.
NATO presence in Iraq surged throughout this year as part of the alliance’s mission to counter ISIS. In February, Stoltenberg announced NATO would be increasing its military presence in Iraq from 500 soldiers to 4,000 to counter the increasing ISIS footprint in the region. Although it is reported that the role of NATO troops would be limited to “non-combat missions” and remain of “purely training and advisory” capacity.
After meeting with the Iraqi PM, Stoltenberg tweeted that NATO “looks forward to continuing cooperating with the government and stepping up support for Iraq in their fight against terrorism.”
Al-Kadhimi drew attention to upcoming early elections in Iraq and called for NATO support to develop Iraqi capabilities to organize safe and free elections.
The parliamentary election is slated to take place in October.