On Monday, US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi signed an agreement that officially ends the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after US forces entered the country.
In the joint final statement of the fourth round of the strategic dialogue between Baghdad and Washington, the US and Iraqi governments affirmed Iraq’s commitment to protecting members of the international coalition who provide advice and training.
Referring to Washington’s support for Baghdad in the fight against ISIS.. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi: I look forward to achieving the interests of our people through strong relations with the United States Arabic pic.twitter.com/DFU5snYq3y
– Arabic (@AlArabiya) July 26, 2021
The Iraqi News Agency quoted the statement as saying that the Iraqi and US governments renewed their emphasis on the principles agreed upon in the Strategic Framework Agreement. The United States also expressed its respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and Iraqi laws.
The statement indicated that the United States intends to continue its support for the Iraqi security forces, stressing the determination of Iraq and America to maintain the strategic relations between them in all bilateral issues in a manner that serves the national interest. The two sides also announced that free and fair elections will support Iraq’s sovereignty, democracy and development.
With the decision to withdraw the last US troops from Afghanistan by the end of August, Democratic President Biden puts an end to US combat missions in the two wars started by former Republican President George W. Bush.
Biden and Al-Kazemi met in the Oval Office in their first direct talks within the framework of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.
Biden told reporters during his meeting with Al-Kazemi: “Our role in Iraq will be to continue training, aid, assist, and deal with ISIS, but we will not be, by the end of the year, on a combat mission.”
There are currently 2,500 US soldiers in Iraq whose missions are to confront the remnants of ISIS. And the US role in Iraq will change completely to being limited to training and advising the Iraqi army.
For his part, Al-Kazemi expressed his happiness at “the continuation of cooperation between the two countries,” noting that the relations between the two countries have “many health, cultural and other aspects.”
“I look forward to the Iraqi elections,” Biden said, in the presence of Al-Kazemi, and pledged to continue “intelligence support for Iraq.”
Earlier, US President Biden expressed, on Monday, his aspiration to receive Al-Kazemi, in order to strengthen the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq.
This afternoon, I’ll be hosting Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi for a meeting in the Oval Office. I look forward to strengthening the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq and working to advance bilateral cooperation.
– President Biden (@POTUS) July 26, 2021
In a tweet on his Twitter account, Biden wrote: “I will host Prime Minister Al-Kazemi for a meeting in the Oval Office. I look forward to strengthening the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq, and working to advance bilateral cooperation.”
The sources of Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath channels suggested the issuance of a joint statement after Al-Kazemi’s meeting with Biden, referring to “reformulating the relationship between Washington and Baghdad,” so that Ending the work of US combat forces in Iraq And set a timetable for its withdrawal by the end of this year, while maintaining a US military presence to train Iraqi forces within the international coalition forces against ISIS.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi (archive)
Sources indicated that The US Air Force will remain in IraqIn addition to Washington providing training and support to the Iraqi forces, stressing that “the withdrawal of the American combat force does not include the coalition forces present in Iraq.”
The meeting between Biden and Al-Kazemi, the first of its kind, focused mainly on the presence of US forces in Iraq, and more broadly on Baghdad’s ability to confront the remaining ISIS cells.
US forces in Iraq (archive)
Al-Kazemi’s visit to Washington came at a time US forces in Iraq are under attack Frequently launched by militias loyal to Tehran. Washington is conducting strikes in response to these attacks.