Author`s name Lyuba Lulko

US troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. Is Iraq happy?

US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year.

According to the American President, the US military will continue training Iraqi servicemen. They will also help them deal with terrorists if such movements appear.

The US military presence in Iraq started in 2003, when Washington deployed its military contingent in the country under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The rest is history: Saddam Hussein was killed, elections were held in 2005, which the Americans called democratic. The Islamic State* terrorist movement (banned in Russia) started growing stronger with every year. 

Today, in 2021, the Americans announced that they were cutting their presence in Iraq.

Was it an initiative of the United States or did Iraq push through the decision? What is hidden behind this decision?

Pravda.Ru asked these and other questions to Boris Dolgov, a leading researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"First of all, I would like to clarify a little here that the United States launched aggression against Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of the need to find weapons of mass destruction that they never found. Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown, he was executed, and the Americans stayed in the country.

A decision has now been made to partially withdraw US troops from Iraq. On the one hand, this is a required decision, because after the assassination of Iranian well-known military and political leader, General Soleimani, the head of Al-Quds special forces, a wave of protests swept across  Iraq demanding the withdrawal of American troops.

At the same time, the Americans are not going far away - they will be redeployed in neighbouring countries:

  • Jordan, where there is a US army base,
  • Saudi Arabia,
  • Bahrain.

In a nutshell, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq will not change the number of forces in the region."

"Is it appropriate to draw comparison with Afghanistan? Will this decision lead to another wave of catastrophic consequences as the Islamic State* may follow the example of the Taliban movement*."

"It's not appropriate to draw comparison with the situation in Afghanistan. The state of affairs in Afghanistan is completely different. In Afghanistan, there is a confrontation between the Afghan, pro-American regime against the Taliban* movement, which enjoyed the support of the majority of the population.

The Taliban* is a heterogeneous movement. There are also ISIS* groups operating in Afghanistan - they work against the pro-American regime. As many as 80 percent of Afghans support the Taliban today.

The state of affairs in Iraq is completely different: there is now no confrontation between the regime and the Islamic State* as ISIS* movement has been suppressed. Iraq is controlled by government forces. 

What Iran is going to gain from US troops withdrawal from Iraq

"According to Western media outlets, Iran will take advantage of the departure of the Americans and work to build the greater Iran with four Arab capitals in it. The four Arab capitals are probably Syria, Shiite Iraq, Lebanon and maybe Iran itself. Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Syria are territories that will now be controlled by the new greater Iran. Do you think that Iran will strengthen its positions after the Americans leave Iraq?" 

"This can be possible indeed, because Iran and Iraq are friendly countries. Let me remind you that most Iranians and Iraqis practice the Shiite branch of Islam.

Iran's influence in Iraq is strong enough, and it grew stronger after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Having toppled Hussein, the Americans achieved their goal - the powerful Arab state in the face of Saddam Hussein was destroyed. 

As for other countries, Iranian influence there is strengthened by the presence of the Hezbollah* movement that supports the Syrian leadership and fights against radical Islamists there on the side of the government army, supported by Iran. This certainly increases influence not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, and possibly in Lebanon.

* Organizations banned in Russia

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