The United States will work with Iraqi leaders to possibly reduce the Pentagon’s military footprint in the country while preserving American interests, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested on Monday.
“How ultimately our force posture will [look like will] be resolved inside Iraq. We will work along duly elected leaders in Iraq to get to the right place”, Pompeo offered during remarks at Stanford University. “I think we can achieve both of these goals – reduce our footprint, reduce our risk while still achieving the American objectives in the region, including in Iraq”.
The Iraqi Council of Representatives expelled foreign troops from the country after the US assassinated the chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qasem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iraqi Shia militia, near the Baghdad International Airport on 3 January.
Amid escalating tensions with Iran following the Soleimani’s killing and subsequent Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi military bases that house US and NATO troops, US President Donald Trump called for an expanded NATO mission to the Middle East, which he is credited with calling ‘NATOME’.
US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus asserted that the US military would stay in Iraq, and suggested that their primary purpose would be to fight the Daesh terror group, while noting that Washington will protect Americans, Iraqis and coalition partners.
In December 2017, the Iraqi leadership announced that it had defeated Daesh, after a three and a half year conflict. Scattered militant groups reportedly continue to operate inside the country, according to reports.