Iraqi PM Says Baghdad Is ‘Heading Towards’ Ending the US Military Presence in the Country

Mohammed al-Sudani and his government are unhappy with the US for launching airstrikes in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said his government is “heading towards” ending the presence of international forces in Iraq, which includes about 2,500 US troops, the largest foreign contingent.

Al-Sudani’s comments came after his government strongly condemned several rounds of US airstrikes in Iraq as a violation of sovereignty and a hostile act. In the latest strikes, the US said it targeted the Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah in retaliation for an attack on a US base, but al-Sudani’s government said civilians were also wounded in the US bombing.

“We are in the process of rearranging the relationship with the international coalition, as in light of the presence of capable Iraqi forces, the Iraqi government is moving towards ending the presence of the international coalition forces,” al-Sudani said at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Spain has 300 troops stationed in Iraq as part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. “My country, always at the request of the Iraqi authorities, will support the unity, sovereignty and stability of Iraq,” Sanchez said at the press conference.

Al-Sudani first came into office at the end of 2022 and made his first public comments on US troops in Iraq in 2023, when he expressed support for the presence of foreign forces. But he’s been under increasing pressure to get them out, especially now as Iraq has become a battleground between Shia militias and the US due to President BIden’s full-throated support for Israel’s Gaza onslaught.

The US has been resisting Iraqi efforts to expel its forces from the country since 2020 when a US drone strike in Baghdad killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. In the wake of the killings, Iraq’s parliament voted to expel foreign forces, but the US refused to leave. The US formally changed its presence in Iraq from a combat role to an advisory one in December 2021, but it did not withdraw any troops at the time.

If al-Sudani tries to expel foreign forces from his country, Washington could make things difficult for him. The US has leverage over Iraq because, since the 2003 invasion, the country’s foreign reserves have been held by the US Federal Reserve, giving Washington control over Baghdad’s dollar supply and the ability to devalue the Iraqi dinar. The US also keeps tight control over Iraq’s ability to pay its neighbor Iran for much-needed electricity.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.