January 16, 2024

The Lingering Question of American Troops in Iraq

The fate of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Iraq was first questioned in March 2018, just three months after former Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced that ISIS was territorially defeated. At the time, the Iraqi parliament voted to request a timeline from the prime minister outlining a scheduled withdrawal of the foreign troops making up the Coalition. Elections were scheduled for May 2018 and the issue of foreign troops, particularly Americans, was largely politicized and used for electoral campaigning. Abadi shrugged the issue off, claiming Iraqi forces still required the training and assistance of allies to counter lingering threats from ISIS.

There are cautionary tales from the recent past of rushing the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

The issue of foreign troops in Iraq grew more complicated as they became a target of paramilitary drone and rocket attacks. Although they had once fought the same enemy, certain armed groups turned their attention to the United States’ presence in Iraq. These attacks were largely performative and rarely resulted in casualties, but they did violate Iraqi sovereignty by defying and embarrassing the Iraqi government by attacking a foreign entity that was present at the invitation of the government. They also provoked responses from the United States which also infringed on Iraqi sovereignty. The back-and-forth in attacks reached a climax when the United States killed IRGC commander Qassim Soleimani and deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis on Baghdad Airport Road on January 3, 2020.

Read the full article from 1001 Iraqi Thoughts.

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