Sec Def Lobbies Iraqi Leaders to Let US Troops Stay

Main Iraqi parliament blocs want US forces out

Iraqi parliament speaker Mohammed al-Balbousi was at the Pentagon Wednesday to listen to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who is trying to sell him, and by extension the rest of parliament, on keeping US troops in Iraq.

That’s going to be a tough sell. The Iraqis declared the ISIS War over in 2017, and politicians started asking questions about the pullout process. That the Pentagon’s stance is troops are staying and that they never asked Iraq about it isn’t sitting well.

Indeed, a lot of the political opposition to an enduring US presence is of America’s own making, with the administration having made enemies of virtually every big Shi’ite bloc by insinuating they are all secretly in league with Iran, and Trump saying the US might as well stay in Iraq just to “keep an eye on Iran.”

None of that is sitting well with Iraq’s parliament, which sees most of US behavior in Iraq as directly aligned against their sovereignty. The US has done little to seriously challenge that. Even the argument for staying is that the US really wants to stay, an argument that’s not likely to sell many MPs.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of