/ 28 July 2021

America to end its combat mission in Iraq

The US will call time by the end of the year, it was confirmed yesterday. President Joe Biden has promised Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi that the US would continue to train and advise Iraqi forces who continue to fight Islamic State jihadists. And Kadhimi, who is walking a fine political line in the region, thanked the US for the “blood and treasure that America has given for a free and democratic Iraq.”

Troops from America, the UK and Australia invaded Iraq in 2003 to remove President Saddam Hussein and his regime. Coalition forces were also tasked with finding and eliminating the weapons of mass destruction believed to be held by Hussein’s regime, which they feared could be unleashed on the West. Plot twist: they didn’t exist, and once the old guard was removed, the flowers of peace did not bloom. What happened was Iraq was engulfed by a bloody sectarian insurgency. US troops eventually withdrew in 2011 but were back in 2014 thanks to the rise of Islamic State. It was defeated by the end of 2017, but about 2,500 US troops have stayed on to block any resurgence. Last year, PM Scott Morrison said the 300 Aussie troops and diplomats in Iraq would stay put to help counter IS. More than 4,000 US, 179 British and 4 Aussie troops died in Iraq during this period.

Hmm, Iraq faces no shortage of problems. In recent months, Iranian-backed militias operating inside Iraq have ramped up attacks on US forces, and soaring COVID infections have added to the pressure. Plus, there and ongoing concerns about an IS revival… That said, reports say many Iraqis would like to see the back of foreign forces, and it would be a feather in Kadhimi’s cap ahead of an election in October. As for the US, it’s getting out of the Middle East as its attention turns its attention elsewhere. Ahem, China

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