As of late, Iraqi forces have demonstrated a drastic improvement in handling the immense threat of the Islamic State. This has allowed the American-led coalition to be able to consolidate its efforts down to Baghdad as well as an al-Asad Air Base – more specifically, the U.S. is withdrawing from Northern Iraq and focusing more so on the western desert region. Furthermore, the U.S. has withdrawn troops from the al-Qaim base, along the border of Syria. With that being said, assistance from the coalition is still needed, as seen by the recent rocket attacks in the Green Zone in Baghdad. These strategic and systematic withdraws fall in line with the previously made plan to consolidate the coalition and move towards a more independent Iraqi Military. Part of this could also be stemming from the fact that many attacks seem to be targeting American interests and/or locations in Iraq.
Myles Caggins, a coalition spokesperson, stated that “Our partnership continues with the Iraqi security forces, but in the future you will see less coalition troops in fewer places with fewer bases.” Caggins went on to discuss the presence of French forces and training operatives in claiming that “in some time, maybe some weeks, the French trainers will come back.” Brig. Tahseen al-Khafaji also spoke out regarding the U.S. withdrawal, assuring that “the withdrawal was agreed between the Iraqi government and the coalition forces”. There are some theories that the U.S.’s withdrawal is correlated to the recent attacks, given that the timing lines up in a somewhat coincidental manner. However, many officials have claimed that the decision was made long ago, and that the recent attacks do not play a role. Finally, a senior American military official stated that “the Iraqis have ceased training activity as you might expect in the current circumstances because [of the health risks associated with] gathering people together.”
As with much of the Middle East, the situation in Iraq is precarious and must be monitored closely. With that being said, the decision to withdraw troops and move towards a more independent Iraq is a very good sign. The Islamic State appears to be weakening in the region. With this, regional powers are becoming much more sufficient in the handling of the Islamic State and are showing signs that the “need” for international intervention is beginning to dwindle down. While these are all positive signs, it is important to remain cautious and be prepared to provide international support should it be required again. However, this support may start to shift away from military intervention, and instead towards help with infrastructure, economics, and education.
The future for Iraq is difficult to predict. Yet, it seems to be that the future is leaning towards being one of lessened violence and international intervention. If the Iraqi government can continue to fight corruption and use its internal capabilities to limit regional extremist groups, then they will be able to blossom more as a country. This could, in turn, boost the economy, increase quality of life for the people, increase regional power, and allow Iraq to become a bigger independent player on the international stage as a whole. Furthermore, Iraq could then be seen as a symbol of hope for other countries which are attempting to foster peace and growth.
- U.S.-Led Coalition Withdraws From Second Iraqi Base - March 31, 2020
- Excessive Force Becoming The Norm On Both Sides Of Iraqi Protests - February 7, 2020
- Saudi Airport Targeted By Houthi Missiles - August 29, 2019