Kurds Worried after Washington Agrees to Reduce US Forces in Iraq’s Kurdistan

In the aftermath of the hastened pullout from Afghanistan, the United States is now facing another withdrawal deadline for some 2,500 US troops in Iraq stationed there since 2003, another  development that has already stirred worries among many Kurds within Iraq.

Iraqi sources inform that about 3,500 foreign soldiers are still present in Iraq, expecting the process of their withdrawal to take several years to be completed.

The Joint Technical Committee between Iraq and the US kicked off the fourth round of meetings in Baghdad on Friday based on the strategic agreement that Iraqi PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and US President Joe Biden signed at the White House in July.

According to the Joint Operations Command of the Iraqi Army, they’ve signed a security agreement to reduce the combat units and military forces in the two bases of Ain al-Assad in western Iraq’s Anbar province, and Harir in the Kurdistan region near Erbil.

The meeting was within the framework of the technical security talks and the plan to transition to a non-combat role for the international coalition forces helping local forces combat remnants of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Iraq.

After the withdrawal, the US will leave behind only few troops at the invitation of Iraq that are expected to train and advise the Iraqi military in accordance with international laws and norms and in line with Iraqi sovereignty.

The two parties also agreed to hold regular sessions to secure the transition by the agreed time at the end of the current year.

According to Erbil-based political analyst Hiwa Osman, the US forces’ pullout from Iraq will not turn the country into another Afghanistan, but it will be fragmented and divided.

According to Osman, former advisor to Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish president of Iraq from 2006 to 2014, the south of the country will fall into Iran’s hands, Kurdish north will be a Turkish takeover, whereas in Sunnies dominated central part of the country there will be a civil war.

Up until recently, US President Joe Biden has been viewed as a reliable partner by the Kurds of Iraq who had high expectations of him after they felt used and dumped by his predecessor Donald Trump but ow the Biden administration cleared its policy of is clear, many Kurds feel exposed and betrayed.

But Osman says he’s not surprised by the move given Washington’s history mistreating its allies, arguing that has history, as always, taught the Kurds a valuable lesson.

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