22 October 2021
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Biden prepares to pull US troops from Iraq after Afghanistan crisis, fuelling fears history will repeat itself

Thursday, 26 August 2021 01:06
US President Joe Biden is preparing to end the combat mission in Iraq US President Joe Biden is preparing to end the combat mission in Iraq

America is on the verge of pulling out its remaining combat troops from a war-torn country, scarred by jihadist violence and hollowed out by endemic corruption. Sound familiar?

It’s not Afghanistan, however. The country in question is Iraq, and Washington will be desperate to ensure that (very recent) history doesn’t repeat itself.

Joe Biden has said US forces will end their combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year. Iraq’s beleaguered prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi flew to Washington last month to get this pledge from the US President – not because he really wants to see the back of US fighters, but because it was politically expedient for him do so, as he tries to balance the conflicting demands of Tehran and Washington.

It’s no secret that the Pentagon will achieve the troop withdrawal on paper by extracting a small number of the remaining 2,500 soldiers and reclassifying the rest as non-combatants.

Mr Biden has made no secret of his desire to detach militarily from Iraq, which since the US invasion 18 years ago has fallen increasingly under the grip of Iranian-backed militias (keen to attack American targets) and a dreadfully corrupt political system that has brought Iraq’s government institutions to their knees.
An interesting perspective on the fate of Iraq comes from the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sheikh Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa, the region’s vice president for security affairs, told Voice of America radio last week that Iraq was unlikely to share Afghanistan’s fate because of “the big difference” between the two countries.

In particular, he noted that power was not centralised in a single ruling clique or group as it has been in Afghanistan.

This has failed to reassure many Kurds, however, who say the shock disintegration of the Afghan army reminded them of the summer of 2014, when the Iraqi forces melted within hours in the face of an Isis attack and left their US weapons to the terrorists.

When the Trump administration decided in 2019 to withdraw most US forces in the region, leaving Kurdish fighters vulnerable to attack from Turkey, Kurdish officials then called the US move a “stab in the back”.
About 900 US troops remain in north-east Syria to help the Kurdish-led SDF fight the remnants of Isis.
By keeping American troops there, Washington may help to dispel the notion – born in the Trump years, and given credence by events in Afghanistan – that the US is an unreliable ally.

But America does not want to be in Iraq forever. As the West – and Afghanistan – has learnt to its cost, military strength alone cannot turn around a failed state.

Source: I News

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