In Iraq Visit, Top US General Talks Long-Term ISIS ‘Threat’

Doesn't expect Iraq policy to change after Syria pullout

US Centcom Commander Gen. Joseph Votel is visiting Iraq Sunday for talks with top officials on the future of the anti-ISIS war inside Iraq, with particular interest in how the long-term war is going to play out after the Syria pullout.

Though Votel did not make new comments on Sunday, his comments last week indicated that he didn’t expect US troop levels in Iraq to change significantly with the Syria pullout, and that capabilities on the ground would remain more or less the same.

Some Pentagon reports, generally coinciding with pushes against the Syria pullout, played up the narrative of ISIS retaking its lost territory in Syria in a matter of months, and indications are that forces on the ground in Iraq will be prepared to react in that highly unlikely eventuality.

Iraq’s military has built up along the Syrian border, anticipating spill-over from the ISIS defeat. So far there hasn’t been much activity there. Iraq’s primary interest in the post-ISIS situation is to get back to normal, and oust foreign troops. Fanciful tales of a reemerging ISIS probably won’t drive Iraqi policy.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of