Iraq is considering a larger role for Nato at the expense of the US-led coalition, Iraqi and Western officials told AFP, after an American drone strike on Baghdad that sparked outrage.
The January 3 strike which killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and a top Iraqi commander was condemned by Baghdad as a breach of its sovereignty and of the coalition’s mandate, which focuses on fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.
Iraq’s parliament swiftly voted in favour of ousting all foreign troops -- including the 5,200 US soldiers -- and the coalition’s anti-IS operations were indefinitely suspended.
Fearing a swift withdrawal could be destabilising, Iraqi and Western officials have begun discussing changes to the coalition’s role, according to local officials and diplomats.
“We are talking to the coalition countries -- France, the UK, Canada -- about a range of scenarios,” said Abdelkarim Khalaf, spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
“The essential thing is that no combat troops are present and our airspace is no longer used,” Khalaf told AFP.
Two Western officials said the premier had asked them to “draft some options” on a path forward for the coalition.