Washington and Iraq have declared that negotiations over the future of the US-led military coalition in Iraq will begin with the goal of determining a timeline for the coalition’s dissolution and a gradual force departure.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States has been present there constantly. In order to assist the Iraqi government in defeating ISIS, tens of thousands of US combat soldiers were deployed to Iraq in 2014 after leaving the country three years earlier.
Since then, the US military’s continued presence in the country to carry out counter-ISIS operations and provide training has served as a magnet for a growing number of powerful militias and politicians in the country that are connected with Iran.
Baghdad wants to “develop a precise and unambiguous schedule that defines the length of time of the stay of international coalition advisors in Iraq, according to a statement released by the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Iraq also wants to “start a steady and intentional decrease of its advisors on Iraqi soil which will ultimately result in the coalition mission coming to an end.
It further stated that Baghdad is dedicated to “maintaining stability and preventing escalation” as well as security of the international coalition’s advisors throughout the bargaining phase in every region of the country.
According to a statement from US Secretary of Defense, the talks will be held as part of the greater military commission that was decided upon seven months ago. The talks aim at a conversation on Iraq and the United States’ shift to a lasting bilateral security relationship.
Though the Iraqi government claims that ISIS has been vanquished and that the coalition’s mission is now complete, it is eager to investigate the possibility of forging bilateral ties with coalition partners, including military supplies and instruction exchanges.
Iraq also claims that since the Israeli conflict in Gaza began, US retaliation strikes have escalated and that the coalition’s existence has turned into a magnet for instability due to almost daily attacks on military posts by militias.
According to US and Iraqi authorities, the process is anticipated to take several months, if not more, with an uncertain conclusion and no immediate US military pullout.
Washington worries that a quick pullout may leave a security void that might be covered by ISIS. The terrorist group has maintained low-level assaults despite having no territory and keeps sleeper cells in desert regions.