US Commander Quietly Visits Iraq to Try to End Talk of Troop Pullout

General downplays 'turbulence' in Iraq right now

CENTCOM commander Gen. Frank McKenzie quietly visited Iraq on Tuesday, with multiple media reports describing him as having “slipped” into the country to try to bolster US-Iraqi ties during what he described as a period of “turbulence.

That’s putting it mildly. In January, the US launched an airstrike against Baghdad International Airport, assassinating a visiting Iranian general, as well as Iraq’s own Gen. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the government’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). In response, Iraq’s parliament voted 170-0 to call for the expulsion of all foreign troops, especially US troops.

The US has made clear it have no intention of leaving, and McKenzie said he believes there will be a “way forward,” presumably a way that doesn’t involve any US troop cuts.

US efforts to try to improve Iraq ties may be difficult at this point because the Iraqi government is in some serious turmoil, expecting new elections soon but with no timetable, and with protesters calling for Iraq to forge a new, independent policy, not dependent on any foreign powers.

The Pentagon wasn’t entirely transparent as to who McKenzie met with, but did say that he was personally “heartened” by the reaction that he got. McKenzie also said he pushed for deploying Patriot missiles into Iraq.

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.