Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in an interview published on Sunday that his country no longer needs American combat troops to fight ISIS.
“There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,” al-Kadhimi told The Associated Press. He did not provide a deadline for when he would expect U.S. troops to depart, but stated Iraqi security forces are now capable of protecting the nation.
The timeline for a withdrawal would be based on the needs of Iraqi forces, al-Kadhimi, who is scheduled to meet with President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE this week, said. However, he added that Iraq would still welcome U.S. training and military intelligence gathering, the AP reports.
“Iraq has a set of American weapons that need maintenance and training. We will ask the American side to continue to support our forces and develop our capabilities,” he said
In April, the U.S and Iraq agreed to transition the Pentagon's mission in Iraq from that of a combat role to a train-and-advise mission, though a timeline was not set, the AP notes. In their upcoming meeting, al-Kadhimi and Biden are expected to specify a timeline for this transition, possibly by the end of this year.
"What we want from the U.S. presence in Iraq is to support our forces in training and developing their efficiency and capabilities, and in security cooperation," the prime minister told the AP.
As the news service reports, the stakes for al-Kadhimi are high, as he seeks to follow through with campaign promises of holding early elections in October.
“We are in a sensitive situation. We need to calm the political situation until we reach the elections,” al-Kadhimi said.