President Joe Biden (right) and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi (left) met in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon (Pictures: AP/Rex)
President Joe Biden is reportedly set to announce that the US will formally end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year. Biden is expected to finalize the agreement in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon.
Iraq urged the drawdown of American troops, as the country juggles anti-American factions, Iranian-backed militias and the US military that has aimed at providing stability.
Biden and al-Kadhimi are expected to release a ‘broad communiqué’ that would ‘make very clear that this has been an evolution’ in regards to the US military’s role in Iraq, a senior administration official told reporters on Monday morning.
The agreement will not involve withdrawing US troops from Iraq, as is happening in Afghanistan. Biden and al-Kadhimi are expected to announce that the US mission will move entirely to an advisory role by the end of 2021. There are currently 2,500 American troops in Iraq. Officials on Monday morning would not comment on how and whether that figure will change.
During her briefing on Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration felt that the American troops drawdown ‘is a natural next step in these ongoing strategic dialogues and that we are moving to a phase not where we are ending our partnership’.
‘We are maintaining a presence in Iraq, with a different mission, in coordination… of course the Iraqi leadership, and one where we feel we can be quite constructive in fighting ISIS and fighting the dangerous threats from Iranian proxies,’ Psaki said.
‘So this is a shift of mission, it is not a removal of our partnership or our presence or our close engagement with Iraqi leaders.’
Al-Kadhimi on Sunday said ‘there is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil’.
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