US, Iraq to Start Talks on Future of US Military Presence

The Iraqi government has been calling for an end to the presence as the US continues to launch airstrikes in the country

The US and Iraq will soon begin talks on the future of the US military presence in Iraq, as Baghdad has been calling for the withdrawal of the US-led coalition in response to US airstrikes in the country.

Sources told CNN that the US and Iraq would use a military commission they formed last summer as a vehicle for the talks and that part of the discussions would involve a potential timeline for a US withdrawal.

A report from Reuters about the talks said it was not clear that the negotiations would end with a US withdrawal. The report reads: “The talks are expected to take several months, if not longer, with the outcome unclear and no US troop withdrawal imminent.”

US officials told CNN that the US wants a withdrawal schedule based on the conditions in Iraq, including the status of ISIS and the stability of Iraq’s security forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has said repeatedly in recent weeks that Baghdad can handle the ISIS remnants that are left in Iraq.

Elements of the Iraqi government want to set a date for the withdrawal regardless of the situation with ISIS. The US presence risks sparking another major war in Iraq as Iraqi Shia militias are firing rockets at US bases due to President Biden’s support for Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, and the US has launched several rounds of airstrikes in response.

The latest airstrikes the US launched on Tuesday killed at least one member of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a militia coalition formed in 2014 to fight ISIS that’s part of Iraq’s security forces. A spokesman for al-Sudani said the US strikes “blatantly” violated Iraq’s sovereignty.

“This unacceptable act undermines years of co-operation… at a time when the region is already grappling with the danger of expanding conflict, the repercussions of the aggression on Gaza,” the spokesman said.

Qassem al-Aaraji, Iraq’s national security advisor, said the way for the US to reduce tensions in the region would be to “pile on pressure for a halt to the Israeli offensive in Gaza rather than targeting and bombing the bases of an Iraqi national body.”

The 2,500 US troops based in Iraq have been unwelcome for years as the Iraqi parliament voted in January 2020 for the expulsion of foreign forces after the US killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike in Baghdad. The US refused to leave and was able to stay due to its control of Iraq’s foreign reserves and ability to destroy the Iraqi economy.

Author: Dave DeCamp

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