The United States military is expected to reduce its troop presence in Iraq by one-third, or down to about 3,500, over the next two or three months, an official told Reuters Friday.
Currently, 5,200 troops are stationed in the Middle Eastern country as a part of an effort to fight the Islamic State’s (ISIS) presence there, but the Trump administration is now confident that Iraqi forces are able handle the terrorist organization on their own.
The move was largely expected after President Trump recommitted to a reduction in the number of troops stationed in the Middle Eastern country during Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s visit to the White House last week.
At that meeting, Trump said: “[Iraq is] a separate country. They have a prime minister. They have people in office. They have to run their country. We’ve been in Iraq for a long time.”
“Frankly, I didn’t think [the Iraq War] was a good idea … now we’re getting out, we’ll be leaving shortly,” he added.
The president has made clear his intentions to withdraw troops from places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria ever since his 2016 campaign. He reiterated that stance during his speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention Thursday, vowing again to cease America’s “endless wars.”
The feelings are now mutual between Trump and Iraqi leadership.
Earlier this year, in the aftermath of the U.S. strike on Iranian terrorist military leader Qassem Soleimani, the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country.
According to Reuters, the reduction of troops is likely just the beginning of a total withdrawal from the country. The outlet noted that during drawdown talks in June, the U.S. expressed “no plans” to “maintain permanent bases or a permanent military presence” in the country.
Most Americans will welcome the news that the U.S. is furthering the process of leaving, but with the U.S. military’s drawdown comes the risk that ISIS or other terrorist organizations will seize back power in the region.
A report from intelligence officials late last year warned that after losing its land territory two years ago, ISIS had reorganized and was rapidly growing an underground presence in Iraq.