US Ambassador Denies Any Talks With Iraq on Removing Troops

Says US is 'prepared to discuss' relationship

US special envoy for the ISIS conflict James Jeffrey denied on Thursday that there have been any talks between the United States and Iraq on withdrawing troops from Iraqi territory, saying there is “no real engagement.”

Jeffrey offered a unique position however, saying that the US “is prepared to discuss with the Iraqi government our overall strategic relationship.” He added that the troops were tied to economic and diplomatic relations under the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement, and that all would be up for discussion.

This contrasts with President Trump’s threats of massive sanctions on Iraq for even asking the troops to leave, and suggesting as recently as yesterday that any troop level changes would be solely on America’s terms.

It may also be misleading to say that there has been no engagement, since Trump spoke with the Iraqi president on the matter on Wednesday, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has engaged with multiple Iraqi officials who have asked for a proper mechanism to deal with troop levels.

Since other US officials have suggested that there would be no withdrawal, they would clearly also prefer not to confirm that the request to leave has even been brought up. That said, while Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi was cowed into backing off the call until after the next elections, the 170-0 vote in Iraq’s parliament is not easily dismissed.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.