After King Abdullah II of Jordan, Joe Biden receives Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa Al Kazimi on Monday July 26 at the White House. The two men must agree on a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. There are currently only 3,500 foreign soldiers from the international coalition that intervened in 2014 to fight Daesh, including 2,500 Americans.
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The subject had already been raised four days earlier at the Pentagon by an Iraqi delegation that had come to prepare for the meeting. According to information from Wall Street Journal, the two parties are said to have agreed to withdraw troops by the end of the year. However, they reaffirmed the need for an American presence to support the Iraqi armed forces in their fight against the last Daesh cells which network the territory.
American military support
“A reduction in the number of troops present does not undoubtedly mean withdrawing them entirely as in 2011”, observes Myriam Benraad, specialist in Iraq and the Middle East and associate professor in international relations at the Free Institute for the Study of International Relations (ILERI). It was in the vacuum left by the Americans that Daesh was able to gain a foothold in Iraq.
If the United States steps down today, US Presidency spokeswoman Jen Psaki has already announced that the Iraqi government wants Washington and the coalition “Continue to train and help his army, to provide logistical support (and) to share intelligence”.
Joe Biden intends to completely withdraw from the Middle Eastern scene. “But he doesn’t want Iraq to fall completely into Iran’s bosom either.”, explains the specialist. Since the fall of the Caliphate, pro-Iranian Shiite militias and American armed forces have carried out regular attacks on Iraqi soil.
Iraqi election deadline
Mustafa Al Kazimi has been pushing the United States for several months to agree on a withdrawal schedule to loosen the grip of pro-Iranian Shiite militias on his government. “He plays his political survival”, continues Myriam Benraad. Obtain a total withdrawal of American troops “Would allow him to legitimize his government contested by the Shiite militias and the Sunni population ostracized”. Iraqi legislative elections are due to be held in October.
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Since the US invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, “The American presence has become an element of destabilization of Iraq which prevents to set up a policy of national union and the government to have the exclusive control of the armed force”, supports Karim Pakzad, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris) and specialist in Iraq.