US and Iraq Launch Official Discussions for US-Led Military Coalition Withdrawal

The United States and Iraq have initiated discussions on the future of US and foreign troops in Iraq, aiming to establish a timeline for reducing their presence. The coalition that was formed in 2014 currently has about 2,500 US troops deployed in Iraq, and these talks mark the beginning of the first round of bilateral dialogue between the two nations.

Bilateral Dialogue Commences

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, along with senior officials from the Iraqi armed forces and the US-led coalition, convened in Baghdad to commence the joint commission. The collaborative effort seeks to conclude the military mission of the Global Coalition against ISIL, following a decade of partnership with Iraqi security and military forces.

Mission and Timeline Discussions

The primary goal of the talks is to negotiate a timeline for the withdrawal of coalition forces, especially after the success in combating ISIL. This move follows incidents that have challenged Iraq’s sovereignty, including US retaliation and frequent attacks by Iran-allied groups. These actions have led to Iraqi complaints of US “aggression” on its territory.

Calls for Withdrawal and Subsequent Agreements

Since the loss of ISIL’s hold on Iraq, officials have persistently advocated for the withdrawal of coalition forces, particularly after the US airstrike in January 2020 that resulted in the deaths of Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad airport. Subsequently, Iraqi officials have vocalized their concerns about the violation of their country’s sovereignty by the US military actions. On Thursday, an agreement was reached between Washington and Baghdad to establish “expert working groups of military and defense professionals” as part of the joint commission. Three working groups were formed to assess the level of threat posed by ISIL, operational and environmental requirements, and the enhancement of the Iraqi security forces’ capabilities.
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Acknowledgement of Military Footprint Discussions

US Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrin Singh affirmed that the US military presence in Iraq will be a significant aspect of the ongoing conversations. While the decision to discuss the withdrawal from Iraq was made before October 7, ISIL claimed credit for the development, emphasizing that it “proves that the Americans only understand the language of force” and vowed to continue its attacks.

Conclusion

The initial round of talks between the United States and Iraq regarding the future of US and other foreign troops in Iraq signifies the beginning of a crucial dialogue that is anticipated to lead to the reduction and eventual withdrawal of coalition forces from the country. The collaborative efforts and joint commission established aim to address concerns related to sovereignty and strengthen the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces. As the discussions progress, both nations are expected to work towards a mutually agreeable timeline for the gradual withdrawal of foreign troops, facilitating Iraq’s continued path towards stability and sovereignty.

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