U.S. and Iraq Reach Agreement To End U.S. Combat Mission
July 27, 2021 (EIRNS)—It’s official: The U.S. combat mission in Iraq will come to an end on Dec. 31. “Our role in Iraq will be as a—dealing with not—it’s just to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS as it—as it arrives,” President Joe Biden said yesterday as he welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the White House. “But we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission.”
The joint U.S.-Iraqi statement published by the State Department affirmed that “there will be no U.S. forces with a combat role in Iraq by Dec. 31, 2021.” The security relationship is to make a full transition to a training, advising, assisting, and intelligence-sharing role by then. The Iraqi side also promised to “protect Coalition personnel advising and enabling the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and reasserted its position that all Coalition Forces are in Iraq at its invitation.”
“The two delegations also emphasized that the bases hosting U.S. and other Coalition personnel are Iraqi bases and are operating per existing Iraqi laws; they are not U.S. or Coalition bases, and the presence of international personnel in Iraq is solely in support of the government of Iraq’s fight against ISIS,” the statement says.
There are currently reported to be about 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, but White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was coy in her briefing yesterday about how that number might change. “The numbers will be driven by what is needed for the mission over time,” Psaki told reporters ahead of Biden’s meeting with Kadhimi. “The real announcement today ... is about a change of mission.”
The meeting at the White House came at the conclusion of two days of meetings last week, flowing out of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, which covers other aspects of the U.S.-Iraq relationship, including expanded initiatives on climate, energy, education, and combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.