Title: United States and Iraq Hold Talks to Wind Down Mission Against ISIS
In a significant development, the United States and Iraq have recently held their first formal talks, aiming to wind down the mission of the U.S.-led military coalition fighting against the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani sponsored the commencement of the bilateral dialogue, emphasizing the need to end the coalition’s mission in the country.
The initiation of these talks comes as Iran-backed militias continue to carry out drone attacks, specifically targeting U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria. However, it is important to note that the discussions regarding the mission’s termination were underway prior to these attacks.
As part of the planned negotiation process, the United States intends to establish a committee to discuss the terms and conditions for ending the military coalition’s mission. These discussions have been in progress since last year and are not a direct response to the recent attacks.
The U.S. has maintained a consistent military presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, with troops returning in 2014 to support the fight against ISIS. Iraqi officials have consistently voiced their desire for a withdrawal of coalition forces, particularly after a U.S. airstrike in January 2020, which resulted in the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Iran-backed militias, known as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, have carried out numerous retaliatory attacks against U.S. forces, reflecting their outrage over Washington’s support for Israel during the war in Gaza. These militias have launched more than 150 missile and drone assaults on American personnel and bases, resulting in injuries among U.S. troops.
In response to these attacks, the U.S. has conducted strikes against militia targets, leading to concerns raised by Iraqi officials regarding violations of sovereignty. Despite these challenges, the decision to engage in talks to end the coalition’s mission was perceived as a success by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, who claimed it was achieved through the use of force. Moreover, they have vowed to continue their attacks.
These talks mark a crucial step towards the eventual withdrawal of the U.S.-led military coalition from Iraq. Both the United States and Iraq are committed to finding a constructive and mutually beneficial solution to address security concerns, while ensuring Iraq’s sovereignty and stability. The negotiations provide an opportunity to explore alternative means of countering terrorism and fostering regional cooperation in the ongoing fight against ISIS.