At the White House on Monday, President Biden met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi of Iraq and subsequently announced that the United States would end its combat mission there by the end of the year.
Promising that by the end of the year they would no longer be in a combat mission.
However, the president did make clear that most of the 2,500 American troops currently stationed in Iraq would remain, and would transition into advisory and training roles. Saying that the United States’ responsibility would be “to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS as it arrives.”
On the other hand, in Afghanistan, the United States plans to end its military mission by the end of August.
Biden’s justification for pulling out of Afghanistan was that he did not believe that the United States could turn the country into a stable democracy.
It appears that Biden believes some presence is still necessary for Iraq, to continue to control the influence of Iran.
The Iraq mission is strategically important to the United States. Military counterterrorism officials estimate that the militant group still has 8,000 to 16,000 guerrilla fighters operating in Iraq and Syria.
American forces in Iraq also support about 900 U.S. troops in Syria. Therefore If the United States were to withdraw from Iraq, it would make supporting the Syria mission far more difficult.
Many people are fearful of a repeat of the failed withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. The United States was pulled back 3 years later after American journalist, James Folet was beheaded by the Islamic State in August 2014 for a propaganda video, and seized the northern third of the country.
Biden has a long history with Iraq.
As both a senator and vice president, he took a strong position on Iraq policy, fostering relationships with its political leaders. He developed an extensive knowledge of the country’s tribal politics and about its tangled feuds and rivalries.