In an interview on Friday, US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel said there was no reason to believe the US military’s relationship with Iraq would be impacted by last weekend’s election. He said the Iraqi military remains “very apolitical” and the US is a “good partner” for them.
Since the 2003 US invasion and occupation, the US has made a point of aligning itself with the governing party in the country. This may be trickier after this new election, which saw cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc win a substantial victory.
Sadr has been vilified by the US for years and has also expressed opposition to Iraq being in the pocket or anyone, including the US and Iran. He has also often called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq, seeing them as a destabilizing influence.
It remains an open question, then, whether the Pentagon’s open-ended deployment to Iraq can survive a Sadr government. While there may be near-term support for a US training mission, Sadr hardly seems the type to support a permanent foreign presence, or to give the US the sort of blank check Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to facilitate that.