Biden Declares All US Combat Troops To Leave Iraq By End Of 2021
In a Déjà Vu foreign policy moment echoed many times before across multiple US administrations spanning back to years after the initial 2003 invasion, President Biden on Monday stated his intent to see American combat troops leave Iraq by the end of 2021.
“We are not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” Biden said early in his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, perhaps preempting the very thing the PM was set on pushing for most.
While what’s designated as “combat” troops will exit, in Washingtonspeak this of course doesn’t ever actually mean all troops will exit. Biden followed with saying advisory forces will “be available to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of the region and our counterterrorism cooperation will continue even as we shift to this new phase that we’re going to be talking about,” Biden added.
In strongly worded remarks issued early last week meant to deflect growing Shiite anger at the enduring US and foreign troop presence in the country, particularly after the January 2020 US assassination of IRGC Quds force general Qassem Soleimani and head of Iraq’s powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, PM Kadhimi had spelled out that the Americans have got to go.
The Iraqi PM had previewed his trip to Washington by saying: “The visit will be to set out this relationship, and to put an end to the presence of combat forces, because the Iraqi army can now fight for itself on behalf of Iraqis and the world against terrorist groups in Iraq. There is no need for combat troops.” The US maintains relatively small presence of about 2,500 troops, and many more contractors – perhaps numbering multiple tens of thousands.
Feel like I’ve heard this story before.https://t.co/xiqoDgJCbo
— Jack Murphy (@JackMurphyRGR) July 26, 2021
The past two years have seen sporadic large-scale protests across major Iraqi cities demanding that foreign troops leave. Since then there’s also been tit-for-tat attacks between pro-Iranian Iraq groups and American forces. Recently Biden has struck ‘Iran-backed’ targets inside eastern Syria near the Iraq border. On Monday, there was another mysterious drone attack on an Iraqi militia arms depot in Najaf, which pro-Iran groups had blamed on Israel.
Meanwhile, Monday afternoon’s statement out of the White House is apparently meant to seal the deal in terms of a US combat troop exit by year’s end. But whether it’s been Iraq, or Afghanistan (or even Syria) over the past years, these promises and exit deadlines tend to come and go with not much changing in terms of America’s presence – other than a continually unraveling security situation.
Mon, 07/26/2021 – 17:35