Iraq Militias: Ceasefire With US Hinges on Full Military Pullout

MP warns that the ceasefire is not open-ended

Iraqi MP Ahmed al-Assadi, whose faction is closely aligned with the Shi’ite militias which have been fighting the US until recently, confirmed today that the ceasefire is now active, but that it is entirely temporary, and hinges on the US completing a military pullout from Iraq.

This is roughly in line with comments made by the militias’ spokesmen last weekend, where they said that the ceasefire was conditional on the Iraqi government providing them with the official timetable on the US pullout. It is unclear if that has taken place.

Assadi suggested that the ceasefire might only last to year’s end. It’s not clear the US will be out by then, as unlike Trump’s promise to have troops in Afghanistan home by Christmas, there has yet to be a publicly announced timetable on Iraq.

It certainly would be possible to get the rest of the way out of Iraq by then, and that might be the plan. The US has been cutting troop levels in Iraq rapidly over the militias’ rocket strikes; it’s understandable that the militias are keeping the chance of resuming strikes in their back pockets.

The militias, particularly Ketaib Hezbollah, have been hostile to the US since January, when the US assassinated Iran’s Gen. Qassem Soleimani and one of Iraq’s top militia leaders. Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously at the time to request the US to leave immediately.

At the time, the US rejected the idea of leaving, but there was later to be discussion in summer on the future of the US presence. It wasn’t very public what happened, but by the time Iraqi PM Mustafa Kadhimi visited the US, the Trump Administration was very public that a pullout was in progress.

Predicting what will happen from this point would be much easier if we were being kept apprised of the situation. The Trump Administration has been very secretive about plans in Iraq, which is particularly strange given how much they are emphasizing plans in Afghanistan.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.