Iraq DM Says US Troops Will Be Out in Four Weeks

Esper visits Baghdad to try to reassure Iraqi govt

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is in Baghdad Wednesday, making the rounds and meeting with top Iraqi officials. This is related to the US transition of troops from Syria, and likely in no small part an effort at damage control.

That’s because Iraqi officials are very publicly unhappy at US troops just showing up in Western Iraq without permission. Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi says that Iraq intends to take “all international legal measures” over the matter, and called on the international community and UN to “perform their roles in this matter.”

Iraqi Defense Minister Najah Shammari suggested it was sorted after his meeting with Esper, saying that the unwelcome US troops are going to all be out of Iraq within the next four weeks.

The US troop presence in Iraq has long been controversial, and more US troops crossing in from Syria unbidden sparked a lot of annoyance from a government that’s already struggling to keep anti-government protests in check.

That Iraq has so publicly rebuked the US about the troops underscores what bad timing this was, and while officials are emphasizing a four week deadline, even that seems a bit much, considering this is a relatively small US deployment.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.