US and Iraq reaffirm military partnership

Iraqi Minister of Defence Thabit Al Abbasi met his counterpart Lloyd Austin in Washington

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, right, hosts Iraqi Minister of Defence Thabet Al Abbasi at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. EPA
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The US and Iraq are looking to expand their relationship beyond their shared fight against the remnants of ISIS.

An Iraqi delegation led by Minister of Defence Thabet Al Abbasi spent two days in Washington meeting with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and other officials for the inaugural US-Iraq Joint Security Co-operation Dialogue

The two sides discussed a host of issues including Iraq’s security and defence capabilities, as well as ongoing efforts to combat ISIS. They also spoke on the need for countries to repatriate citizens currently held in prisons for ISIS fighters in north-east Syria.

The two sides – which included Iraq's director of the Counter-terrorism Service and the deputy commander of the Joint Operations Command-Iraq, as well as assistant secretary of defence Celeste Wallander – agreed to “deepen” their “security co-operation”, according to a readout from the Pentagon.

The US currently has about 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq to help train and assist Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIS, which remains a persistent though much diminished threat in the region.

Iraqi security forces have been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS since December 2021, and with the backing of the US and a global coalition have been successful in reducing the terror group’s operability.

Now the focus can pivot to imagining what US-Iraqi defence co-operation will look like in the future.

As part of the meeting, Washington and Baghdad agreed to “consult” on ways the coalition might “evolve” and agreed to form a military commission to help guide that process.

Mr Al Abbasi's visit follows a visit by Mr Austin to Baghdad in March.

Updated: August 08, 2023, 10:37 PM