President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi are expected to announce an agreement to end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year.
The Associated Press was able to confirm the news after speaking to a White House official who said that the plan “to shift the American military mission, whose stated purpose is to help Iraq defeat the Islamic State group, to a strictly advisory and training role by year’s end — with no U.S. troops in a combat role — will be spelled out in a broader communique to be issued by the two leaders following their White House meeting on Monday afternoon.”
The United States and Iraq had previously agreed in April that the U.S. transition to a train-and-advise mission meant the end of the U.S. combat role, but had not agreed on a timetable.
The White House official said Iraqi security forces were “battle tested” and have proved themselves “capable” of protecting their country. Regardless, the Biden administration recognizes that the Islamic State remains a threat to the nation’s security.
The news that the U.S. combat mission will end would be a boon for al-Kadhimi who faces an uphill battle in the upcoming elections. Iraq has been dealt heavy blows by Covid-19 and Iranian-backed militias inside Iraq have mounted more attacks against U.S. forces.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.