US President Joe Biden has confirmed that the US military’s combat role in Iraq will come to a close by the end of the year as US forces switch their focus to training and assisting Iraqi security forces to counter the Islamic State terror group.
“Our role in Iraq will be… to be available to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS [Islamic State] as it arrives, but we’re not going to be by the end of the year in a combat mission,” Biden said during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House.
Biden noted that the United States and Iraq are committed to security cooperation, particularly regarding the shared fight against the Islamic State that is critical for the stability of the Middle East.
After December 31, 2021, the United States will switch to training and assisting Iraqi forces to counter the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, former senior adviser to the Acting US Defense Secretary, Douglas Macgregor, told Sputnik that the Biden administration will likely follow through on its announcement to pull all US combat forces from Iraq by the end of the year to avoid clashes with Iran and Turkey.
“Biden and his advisers fear the potential for conflict with Iran that our [US] presence in Iraq creates,” Macgregor, a retired US Army Colonel and military historian and tactician, said. “They are equally concerned about [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s role in Iraq and Syria.”
Macgregor, who commanded the main US armored force victory over Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard in the 1991 Iraq War, also said the US economy cannot withstand the pressure that a major regional war would exert.
“As a result, he [Biden] will honor the pledge,” he said.
The current Baghdad government led by al-Kadhimi was already dependent on Tehran and its allies for survival, Macgregor said. Meanwhile, he added, Turkish aspirations to regain control of northern Iraq and its oil fields are “real.”
“As Erdogan expands his control and influence in Kurdistan, Baghdad’s dependence on Tehran will increase,” Macgregor said.
IS, Macgregor added, was a creature of Erdogan and “US stupidity” and was always designed to fight and destroy Shiite control of Iraq and Syria.
“If Erdogan can focus it on Iraq he may use it, but Erdogan will measure what he might gain by what he may lose by re-purposing ISIS [IS]. There is no point in reviving it if he cannot control it,” Macgregor said.