Behind Iraq’s call to remove US-led forces

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani attends a press conference with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (not pictured) in Baghdad on December 28, 2023. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced Friday he will remove about 900 US-led coalition forces from his country, saying that “the justifications for its existence” — the threat of the Islamic State, or ISIS — “have ended.” Al-Sudani announced that he would put together a “bilateral committee,” which includes members of the coalition forces, charged with ending their presence in the country, Reuters reported Friday . But it’s not clear that al-Sudani and the Iran -linked political blocs crucial to his appointment as prime minister will actually be able to push coalition forces out, though it may succeed in limiting their ability to operate in the country and the wider region. The announcement came just a day after the US killed Mushtaq Jawad Kazim al-Jawari, also called Abu Taqwa, who the Department of Defense said was a leader of Harakat al-Nujaba (HaN), a Shia militant group associated with Iran and responsible for attacking US installations in Iraq and Syria. Other reporting has identified Abu Taqwa as Mushtaq Taleb al-Saeedi . The Pentagon confirmed the identity of Abu Taqwa as al-Jawari, but did not confirm the identity of a second person killed in the attack, beyond his affiliation with Abu Taqwa and HaN. Such attacks have occurred in varying tempo and intensity for years now, ramping up again following Israel ’s war with Hamas in Gaza after the October 7 attacks. Pentagon leadership has maintained that Abu Taqwa was “actively involved in planning and carrying out attacks against American personnel.” But given that Harakat al-Nujaba and groups like it are technically part of the Iraqi military, al-Sudani’s office called Thursday’s strike an “unwarranted attack on […]

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