In the wake of the ISIS War in Iraq, Pentagon officials will tell you what they’ve been saying all along, that America’s intention is to stay in Iraq, and that there is no consideration being given to leaving. It’s not clear the US has spoken to the Iraqi government about this, however.
While many Iraqis accepted the offer of help in the more desperate moments of the ISIS War, the US military has quickly worn out its welcome. Across a number of major political blocs in Iraq, there is growing consensus that the US, and indeed all foreign military forces, need to go.
This has been brewing for months. The Iraqis saw Trump’s visit to Iraq, during which he didn’t meet the Iraqi PM, as a sign of disrespect. That the Pentagon keeps insisting they’re staying in Iraq, without asking the Iraqis, only adds to the sense that the US isn’t really an invited guest in any real sense.
Hawks are already trying to spin this, as with everything else that doesn’t go America’s way in Iraq, as Iran’s fault. Iraq’s political scene is dominated by Shi’ite parties, and US officials have plenty of practice pretending that Shi’ite is just a fancy word for “Iranian” these days.
Yet this underpins one of the major reasons the US is on the outs with so much of the Iraqi parliament. US hostility toward Iran has meant practical hostility toward Iraqi Shi’ite militias who fought against ISIS and enjoy strong support from the Iraqi government. US ultimatums to disarm militias that are practically part of the Iraqi government have always come with the implied threat of the US leaving, when they never had any intention of doing so.
And now, when hostility to the Shi’ite militias has turned parliament against them, US hawks are still trying to spin this as proof of an Iran problem, In reality, the US and Iran have been backing the same parties in Iraq since 2003, and US discomfort with that fact has been consistently undermining their goals.