Anonymous American officials have said the coming days will likely include talks that will see the withdrawal of American forces in Iraq. The two countries had been working in tandem to fight the Islamic State for years but are likely to decide soon whether or not to remain in the country. The unnamed officials also said that the increased attacks on U.S. bases were not a factor in the decision to leave. They claim that the Israel-Hamas conflict delayed the decision.
During the fall of 2023, over 60 attacks were launched by militants backed by Iran. Currently, the 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq are used as security forces to ensure there is no resurgence of the Islamic State. Since 2014, the U.S. has been training Iraqi defense forces to fight and secure land to ensure that the Islamic State could not reclaim control of the country.
The Iraqi government is under significant pressure from their Iranian neighbor to get rid of U.S. troops. The Shiite militias that are supposed to be under the control of Iraq are heavily influenced by the Iranian government and have carried out attacks on U.S. bases, resulting in the deaths and injuries of U.S. and Iraqi service members.
Both the U.S. and Iraq have spoken out against a hasty withdrawal and are hopeful that a timetable can be created for a more organized withdrawal. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that any transition will be determined by the capabilities of the Iraqi defense forces, the threat of the Islamic State, and the environmental factors of a safe withdrawal.
Although there has been no specific timetable set, it seems both countries are preparing to safely part ways. There have not been any specific visions set by either country for what the withdrawal would look like, but Defense Secretary Austin has made it clear that the U.S. is committed to ensuring that Iraq can sustain its own security before any exit. After a hasty and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. is trying to avoid another international embarrassment.
It is important to note that neither side has made full preparations for the withdrawal of forces, and this is entirely speculation on when it will occur. This is likely not something that will happen quickly, as the situation in the Middle East is changing rapidly.