U.S. to End Combat Mission in Iraq

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Politics|Biden says U.S. volition extremity its combat ngo successful Iraq arsenic its premier curate visits the White House.


Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi of Iraq met with President Biden successful  the Oval Office connected  Monday.
Credit...Tom Brenner for The New York Times
  • July 26, 2021, 9:15 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Biden said connected Monday that the United States would extremity its combat ngo successful Iraq by the extremity of the year, shifting afloat to an advisory and grooming relation arsenic America dials down its engagement successful semipermanent conflicts successful the Middle East.

“We’re not going to be, by the extremity of the year, successful a combat zone,” Mr. Biden said arsenic helium met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi of Iraq astatine the White House Monday.

The statement to extremity the combat ngo is mostly symbolic, since U.S. troops nary longer travel Iraqi forces hunting remaining pockets of Islamic State fighters.

Pentagon and different medication officials said they volition region a tiny but unspecified fig of the 2,500 American forces presently stationed successful Iraq, and reclassify connected insubstantial the roles of different forces to counsel and assistance their Iraqi counterparts. For his part, Mr. al-Kadhimi volition person a governmental trophy to instrumentality location to fulfill anti-American factions successful Iraq and the U.S. subject beingness volition remain.

“The nonsubjective of some sides is for thing to alteration and to support astir 2,500 U.S. troops determination that would bash things they are already doing, that’s supporting Iraqi information forces, but not prosecute successful combat,” said Sarhang Hamasaeed, manager of Middle East Programs astatine the U.S. Institute of Peace.

What appears to beryllium a acceptable portion of diplomatic theatre is the latest effort by Mr. al-Kadhimi to tread betwixt the needs and demands of Iraq’s 2 closest allies, the United States and Iran. Pro-Iranian factions person been clamoring for a U.S. departure, portion Iraqi officials admit they inactive request the assistance of American forces.

But portion giving Mr. al-Kadhimi impermanent governmental cover, a reclassification of U.S. forces alternatively than a drawdown apt won’t fulfill the militias and governmental parties calling for a withdrawal of each troops, Iraqi officials say.

“Changing their sanction from combat forces to trainers and advisers — we see it arsenic an effort astatine deception,” said Mohammad al-Rubai’e, governmental spokesperson for Asaib Ahl al-Haq, 1 of the biggest Iranian-backed militias, which maintains 16 seats successful the Iraqi parliament.

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