UPDATED 6:17 PM PT – Monday, July 26, 2021
The Biden administration moved to further limit America’s military presence in the Middle East. On Monday, Joe Biden met with Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and vowed to end America’s combat mission in the country.
“I think things are going well. Our role in Iraq will be as a, dealing with, not, it’s just to be available to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it arrives,” Biden stated. “We are not going to be by the end of the year in a combat mission.”
President Trump began to pullback troops late last year when he reduced the troop numbers from 3,000 to 2,500. There has been a combat presence in the country since 2014 when former President Barack Obama ordered the military to fight ISIS after bringing troops home just three years prior.
A/ASD Karlin hosted National Security Advisor al-Araji and sGEN al-Shimary on July 22 for a U.S.-Iraq Military Technical Talk. Both reaffirmed their commitment to the D-ISIS mission and discussed long-term security cooperation. pic.twitter.com/KjMrWdnCoq
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) July 22, 2021
Al-Kadhimi said it was the right time to wind down a U.S. presence in the country and claimed his military was capable of defending itself from terrorists. However, U.S. troops would still be expected to assist Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS militants, but only in a training and intelligence capacity.
“Together, we fight and defeat ISIS and I’d like to thank the American people on behalf of all Iraqi people,” he expressed. “I thank you for all the blood and treasure that America has given for a free and democratic Iraq.”
Al-Kadhimi stressed the deadline of withdrawal to be dictated by the needs and demands of the Iraqi army. Biden predicted the pullout to come by year’s end.
This pullout comes on the heels of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is expected to be completed by August 31. Critics warn the move is empowering the Taliban, who claim to have taken back more than 85 percent of the country.