US President Joe Biden on Monday (26) reached an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to officially end the US combat mission in the country by the end of 2021, more than 18 years later, troops land in the Middle East.
The end of the operation, however, does not mean the end of the American presence in the country. The United States will remain in Iraq to train and advise the military, which means a small change in its role today, as that is already the current focus of the mission.
“Our role in Iraq will be […] be available, continue to train, support, help and manage EI [Estado Islâmico] when that happens, ”Biden told a press conference, stressing that the country will not be present in the form of a combat mission.
Currently, there are 2,500 American troops in Iraq, focused on combating the remnants of ISIS. Despite the announcement of the change, the US president did not say whether there would be a reduction in that number.
With this decision, the Democrat ends the combat missions of two wars started under the mandate of George W. Bush – until the end of August, American troops will leave Afghanistan.
The US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003 after accusations that the government of the country’s leader, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction. The dictator was removed from office, but the weapons were never found. Thus, in recent years, the US mission has turned to defeat ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
Ahead of Kadhimi’s visit to Biden, the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders, a senior US government official said no one would declare the mission accomplished, as the goal is to keep ISIS defeated. The statement recalls the large “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier where Bush delivered a speech declaring major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003.
The Iraqi prime minister is seen as a friend of the United States and has tried to curb Iran’s allied militias, but his government has condemned an airstrike against fighters engaged with the Persian country on the Iraqi border with Syria late June, calling for an attack on sovereignty.
The meeting communiqué is expected to further detail a number of non-military agreements relating to health, energy and other matters. The United States plans to supply Iraq with 500,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, as part of Covax, an initiative linked to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the distribution of doses to countries in development. Biden said the injections are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
The US government is also planning to fund a UN mission to monitor the country’s elections in October, which the president says he hopes will take place, with $ 5.2 million (R $ 26.9 million).