December’s announcement of a US pullout of troops from Syria set a lot
of discussions in motion, but in neighboring Iraq, it brought focus to
ongoing discussions on the presence of US troops inside Iraq.
This was already a major political issue within Iraq, with several parties seeking a firm government timetable on a US withdrawal, since the Abdel Mahdi government has been clear on the war against ISIS being over. Since Syria shows the US can actually leave a country, this has brought the question into laser focus.
A lot of the Shi’ite parties have problems with the open-ended US military presence in Iraq, and while some analysts are trying to pass this off as Iran’s agenda, the reality is that US hostility to Shi’ite militia groups, who have substantial political clout, is also driving this interest.
Several political parties are jointly driving the call to settle of some sort of firm timetable for the US pullout, and are even negotiating internally for a bill that would set a firm deadline for all US troops to be out of the country.
President Trump’s December visit, and his refusal to meet the Iraqi premier started this push for the pullout, with many presenting it as a deliberate slight by Trump and a sign of disdain toward the Iraqi government.
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