Iraqi Government Tells Military Not to Seek Help From US in ISIS Operations

Govt seeks to curtail joint operations with US forces

Tensions may have calmed a bit from where they were after January’s US airstrike against Baghdad International Airport, but all is clearly not over, and Iraqi military officials say they’ve been ordered not to seek help from US and coalition member forces in any of their anti-ISIS operation.

This admittedly probably doesn’t come up often. ISIS has little to no presence left in Iraq, Iraq conducts few operations against them, and even when they do, it’s doubtful they’d need foreign help. Still, this shows Iraq is rethinking the relationship.

On a broader scale, Iraq is reacting to their failed attempt to expel US troops by at least severely curbing joint operations with the remaining US forces. This would allow Iraq to both emphasize its autonomy, and to limit the US military’s direct ties to their military.

Tensions after the US airstrike had already led to a brief suspension of joint operations, and while they were announced late last week to again be resumed, Iraq clearly isn’t interested in scaling it back up to historic levels.

It’s not clear if the order applies solely to Iraq’s anti-ISIS operations, limited though they may be, or other operations within Iraq as well. The choice of ISIS operations may be deliberate, as US officials have tried to make ISIS a justification to stay in Iraq despite not really being welcome any longer.

One Iraqi intelligence official said any “presence of the Americans in the joint operations is only formal.” US officials have not responded to this substantial policy change.

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.