Biden, Kadhimi to seal ending agreement of US combat mission in Iraq
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi will sign an agreement on Monday that would formally terminate the US combat operation in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after US soldiers were sent to the country.
In addition to withdrawing the final American forces from Afghanistan by the end of August, Biden is wrapping up US combat missions in the two wars that then-President George W. Bush started during his presidency.
As part of a strategic dialogue between the US and Iraq, Biden and Kadhimi will meet in the Oval Office for their first face-to-face talks.
According to a senior Biden administration official, a statement to be released following the meeting would mark the end of the US military mission in Iraq.
2,500 US forces are now stationed in Iraq, focusing on fighting Daesh remnants. The United States' engagement in Iraq will be limited to training and advising the Iraqi troops on how to defend themselves.
The shift is not expected to have a major impact since the United States has already moved toward focusing on training Iraqi forces.
A US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on charges that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was ousted from power, but such weapons were never found.
In recent years the US effort was dominated by assisting combat Daesh extremists in Iraq and Syria.
"No one is going to declare the mission a success. The long-term defeat of Daesh is the goal "Prior to Kadhimi's visit, a senior administration official told reporters.
The statement was reminiscent of the big "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier above where Bush gave a speech on May 1, 2003, declaring major combat operations in Iraq completed.
"If you look to where we were, where we had Apache helicopters in combat when we had US special forces doing regular operations, it's a significant evolution. So by the end of the year, we think we'll be in a good place to really formally move into an advisory and capacity-building role," the official said.
Three rocket and drone assaults against US diplomats and troops in Iraq and Syria occurred earlier this month. Analysts speculated that the attacks were part of an Iranian-backed militia effort.
A senior administration official declined to disclose how many US troops will remain in Iraq to provide advice and training.
Kadhimi is regarded as a US ally who has attempted to limit the dominance of Iran-aligned militias. His administration, on the other hand, denounced a US air raid on Iran-aligned fighters near Iraq's Syrian border in late June, calling it a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
The US-Iraqi statement is expected to detail a number of non-military agreements related to health, energy, and other matters.
According to a senior administration official, the US plans to provide Iraq with 500,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of the global COVAX vaccine-sharing program.
The US will also contribute $5.2 million to a UN mission to observe Iraq's elections in October.