US Out of Iraq

January 21st, 2024 - by Dave DeCamp /

Al-Sudani Says US-Led Coalition
Withdrawal ‘Necessary’ for Iraq’s Security
Dave DeCamp /

(January 18, 2024) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani reaffirmed on Thursday his desire for the US-led international coalition in Iraq to withdraw, saying it’s “necessary” for the country’s security.

The coalition, known as Operation Inherent Resolve, is in Iraq in the name of fighting ISIS, but al-Sudani has repeatedly said that Iraq’s security forces could handle the remnants of the terrorist group. “Today, with the people of Iraq as witnesses, ISIS is no longer a threat to the Iraqi people,” he said.

Tensions have been soaring in Iraq as Shia militias have been targeting US bases with drone and rocket attacks since mid-October in response to President Biden’s support for the Israeli onslaught in Gaza. Al-Sudani started calling for the withdrawal of US forces after the US began launching airstrikes in response without consulting his government.

A recent US drone strike in Baghdad killed a deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of Shia militias that was formed in 2014 to fight ISIS and is part of Iraq’s security forces.

“Today, after the aggression on the Iraqi security forces’ positions, we have to start a discussion in order to reach an understanding to form a timeline to end the mission of the international advisors and move towards bilateral relations in every sector, just like any other country in the region and the world,” al-Sudani said.

While al-Sudani continues to state that he wants foreign forces to leave, the Pentagon said earlier this month that it has no plans to withdraw. If al-Sudani tries to force them out, the US can make things very difficult for him.

The US has leverage over Iraq because the country’s foreign reserves have been held by the US Federal Reserve, giving Washington control over Baghdad’s dollar supply and the ability to devalue the Iraqi dinar. An Iraqi source told The New Arab that al-Sudani should not make an enemy out of the US for this reason.

“The Iraqi government and the political leaders are better to know that Iraq is incapable of making the US its enemy because with one statement from the US administration, the value of the Iraqi dinar will crash and the current Iraqi regime will collapse,” the source, described as a member of Iraq’s “ruling elite,” told the outlet.

The source claimed Iraq is not serious about expelling the US, suggesting al-Sudani’s comments are just for PR purposes to satisfy domestic critics of the US presence. “Therefore, the Iraqi government always makes its position as balanced between the US and Iran fronts and cannot align to one front. This is the best policy Iraq can adopt now.

Iraq is not serious about exiting the US and the coalition forces, as the Iraqi parliament has previously made a decision to expel the foreign forces, but it never carried out,” the source said.