San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
U.S. to affirm withdrawal of Iraq troops
Iraq’s prime minister is heading to Washington this weekend to demand that President Biden withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq, announcing to Iraqi media that the visit would “put an end to the presence of combat forces.”
American officials say the United States is likely to oblige the request from Prime Minister Mustafa alKadhimi, setting a deadline to be announced Monday for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.
But Pentagon and other administration officials say they will achieve this not by removing any of the 2,500 American forces currently stationed in Iraq, but by reclassifying their roles on paper. AlKadhimi will have a political trophy to take home to satisfy antiAmerican factions in Iraq and the U.S. military presence will remain.
What appears to be a set piece of diplomatic theater is the latest effort by alKadhimi to tread between the needs and demands of Iraq’s two closest allies, the United States and Iran. ProIranian factions have been clamoring for a U.S. departure, while Iraqi officials acknowledge they still need the help of American forces.