Former Iraqi Deputy PM Saleh Al-Mutlaq said in an April 16, 2020 interview on Alsumaria News TV (Iraq) that the Sunnis in Iraq’s parliament did not vote in favor of the recent resolution to expel U.S. forces from Iraq because Iraq is not ready for the U.S. to leave. He explained that in retrospect, the Sunnis would not have voted in favor of the 2008 security agreement with the United States that provided for the withdrawal of U.S. forces by 2011 had it known that it would result in the “security vacuum” that was filled by Iran and its militias in Iraq. He elaborated that this fragile situation is what resulted in the rise of ISIS and he argued that since there are still ISIS forces in Iraq, now is not the time to vote for the expulsion of U.S. forces. In addition, Al-Mutlaq said that the war against ISIS would have lasted much longer were it not for American logistical and military support.
Interviewer: "How come (the Sunnis) did not vote (in favor of expelling U.S. forces)?"
Saleh Al-Mutlaq: "We did not vote for this because the country is not ready for it. When we voted for the (2008) security agreement, which provided for the withdrawal of the Americans by 2011... We would not have voted for it had we known that this would be the outcome."
Interviewer: "What do you mean?"
Saleh Al-Mutlaq: "A security vacuum was created and it was filled by Iran and its militias in Iraq. This is not the Iraq we want. Nobody wants the Americans to remain in Iraq – nobody wants any foreign country to have a presence in Iraq – but in light of the fragile security situation... There are still ISIS cells out there, the military has not been properly (re)built, there are no weapons in the areas where ISIS is present, and nobody has the weapons necessary to fight ISIS... There is a threat that these areas might fall again to ISIS at any moment. This is not the right time to vote for or against the (American) withdrawal. The second point is that you were the one who called upon the Americans, the British and the international community to come and save you because you were in a tough situation. And they came to help you..."
Saleh Al-Mutlaq: "So if you want them out, you need to sit down with them and reach understandings about a timetable for withdrawal, and they will leave. But you cannot expel them in a humiliating way. You invited them and they came to fight by your side, investing all these soldiers, capabilities, and money..."
Interviewer: "(Iran's supporters) say that the Americans supported ISIS and did not fight them..."
Saleh Al-Mutlaq: "That's not true. I know all the details. The (U.S.) intelligence services would identify ISIS positions and bomb them. Rest assured that if not for the (Americans') logistical support, the war (with ISIS) would have lasted much longer."