Senior Iraqi officials are set to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss the continuation of the ‘strategic partnership’ between the two countries, and potentially hammer out a timetable on the withdrawal of US combat troops from the country, some four years after Daesh’s* defeat.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has reiterated that Baghdad does not need any US or other foreign combat troops on its soil to be able to defend itself.
Suggesting that a “special timetable” on withdrawal was necessary to account for the Iraqi forces’ readiness to fight terrorist remnants independently, al-Kadhimi indicated that the creation of such a timetable would depend on the outcome of Monday’s negotiations, which will be the fourth such talks.
Parliament Wants Total Withdrawal
Iraq’s parliament issued a resolution to expel all US and coalition forces from the country in January 2020 in the wake of the Trump administration’s unprovoked assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport. Amid lawmakers’ demands and a deteriorating security situation, Trump’s Pentagon gradually whittled down deployments from a high of 5,300 troops and handed over some bases to Iraq through 2020, but refused to depart completely. By the time Donald Trump left office, the US had cut troop levels to 2,500 apiece in both Iraq and Afghanistan.