During a Monday White House meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, U.S. President Joe Biden announced that the United States forces in Iraq would end their combat mission there within the coming few months. Alongside the top Iraqi leader, Biden said in response to the questions of reporters in the Oval Office that the new role for the U.S. troops in Iraq will continue to assist, to train, to help, and to deal with the Islamic State group (ISIS) as it gets up, but the American forces will end combat duties in Iraq by the end of the year.
The relationship between the US and Iraq is entering into a “new phase”. US President @JoeBiden has announced that US combat forces will exit Iraq by the end of this year. The announcement came after Biden met Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi.@SaroyaHem tells you more pic.twitter.com/fwYiSHhLdx
— WION (@WIONews) July 27, 2021
What role will U.S. forces play in Iraq?
The president declined to clarify how many American troops will remain there at the current level of around twenty-five hundred. However, after the technical meetings, the United States and Iraq issued a joint statement on Monday which said that the security association of both countries would fully transition to an advising, intelligence-sharing role, training, assisting and that there will be no American forces with a combat role in Iraq by 31st December 2021.
Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, explained to the media just before the Oval Office meeting that the latest announcement from the president is a shift in mission. It is not a removal of the U.S. partnership or presence or close engagement with Iraqi leaders. Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense, told a group of reporters in Alaska on Saturday that the United States forces in Iraq are capable of doing several things.
News reporters asked him whether he would classify the U.S. forces currently in Iraq as combat forces or mainly devoted to advising, training, and assisting. Austin further added that he thinks trying to make that distinction is very tough. However, he would say that the key will be what they purposed, what they tasked to do at any given time.
Biden Vowed for the Rule of Law in Iraq
After the meeting, Biden tweeted that he met with the Iraqi Prime Minister in the Oval Office, and they both reiterated their commitment to expanding cooperation through new initiatives focused on heal, education, and climate. They also made a commitment to support the democracy of Iraq and strengthened the rule of law in the country.
Today, I met with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq in the Oval Office. We reaffirmed our commitment to expand cooperation through new initiatives focused on education, health, and climate as well as support for Iraq’s democracy and strengthened rule of law. pic.twitter.com/wxtqizA3U7
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 26, 2021
Official Emphasized that Seven Years back Episode will not Repeat
Official owed that they will ensure that the seven years ago episode will never repeat when the ISIS group swept through Mosul, and several foreign fighters poured into Iraq and Syria. Then, the forces of the Iraqi administration approximately collapsed, and there were too many suicide-bombing attacks monthly.
A senior United States official told reporters on a briefing call on the occasion of the Iraqi prime minister’s visit that, as they always said from the starting, no one is going to declare mission accomplished. The aim is the lasting defeat to ISIS, and the U.S. recognize that they have to keep pressure on these networks as they intend to rebuild, but the role of the American forces and allied forces can very much regress, deep into the background where they are advising, training, sharing intelligence and helping with logistics.
Iraq and the U.S. agreed in April to change the mission of the United States troops, which started in 2015 and focused on advisory roles and training to assist Iraqi security forces, but there was no timeline for finalizing the transition. Furthermore, Fuad Hussein, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, told the Kurdish Service of VOA last week that he expected both countries agree on an end to the United States combat mission in Iraq.
The White House meeting occurred because of the continuous attacks against United States military positions in Iraq that the U.S. blames Iran-linked militias. On 24th July, a pro-Iranian militia commander issued a threatening statement to attack American forces inside the country and called for a withdrawal of troops. On Saturday, a drone attack hit a military base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is under the custody of American troops.