US President Joe Biden receives Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kasimi at the White House. The two governments agree to prioritize training Iraqi security forces from the end of the year.
Washington (AP) – The US officially wants to end its combat mission in Iraq and focus fully on training and advising the country’s security forces in the future.
According to a joint statement by the two governments, distributed by the US State Department, the remaining combat troops should leave Iraq by the end of the year. The role of the international soldiers in Iraq is to support the government in its fight against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS).
US President Joe Biden said during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kasimi at the White House that the US will no longer be fighting in Iraq by the end of the year. The role of US troops will be to “be available, train, support, assist and deal with IS”. There are currently about 2,500 American soldiers in Iraq, according to the White House. The future number will be based on the requirements of the changed usage, it said. However, experts did not expect a large withdrawal of the troops.
The US leads an international coalition in Iraq that is cracking down on ISIS in the region. The deployment of American soldiers is controversial in the crisis country. In particular, Iraqi parties and militias closely associated with Iran are demanding their withdrawal. By contrast, other forces, such as Sunni parties and Kurds, want US troops to remain in the country. Under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, the US had reduced the number of troops in Iraq.
The political situation in Iraq is unstable. Massive protests against the leadership of the country have been repeated several times since the fall of 2019. The protesters accuse her of mismanagement and corruption. Iraq is also still suffering the effects of the fight against ISIS, which ruled large areas in the north and west of the country between 2014 and 2017. The Iraqi security forces were able to militarily defeat IS with international support – especially the US. The security situation in Baghdad has improved significantly since then. Terrorist cells are still active and committing attacks.
Iraq, which is dependent on the sale of raw materials, is also experiencing a severe economic crisis and high unemployment due to low oil prices. The country is also one of the countries in the region hardest hit by the corona pandemic.