U.S. Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) and a handful of Republican colleagues have introduced a resolution that would withdrawal all remaining U.S. forces from Iraq. Roughly 2,500 U.S. troops tasked largely with training Iraqi forces remain stationed in military stations throughout the country as of 2023.
“The U.S. military overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime within 3 weeks of being in Iraq. There is no reason to risk the lives of American soldiers by maintaining a presence there.,” Crane, a former Navy Seal who fought in the Iraq War, wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “My resolution would result in a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.”
The resolution — which was submitted by Reps. Crane, Gosar (R-AZ), Gaetz (R-FL) and Boebert (R-CO) — would terminate the National Emergency declaration issued by former President Bush via executive order on May 22, 2003.
The U.S. military overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime within 3 weeks of being in Iraq.
There is no reason to risk the lives of American soldiers by maintaining a presence there.
My resolution would result in a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. pic.twitter.com/W1uyTJaIp3
— Rep. Eli Crane (@RepEliCrane) July 18, 2023
Since the bulk of U.S. forces pulled out of Iraq in 2011, several thousand have remained in order to train Iraqi forces. “Iraq is still under pressure from ISIS,” said retired Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, who led U.S. Central Command and served as the top U.S. commander for the Middle East from 2019 to 2022. “We still help them continue that fight. We’ve done a lot of things to help them improve the control of their own sovereignty, which is of very high importance to the Iraqis.”
Concerns have grown in recent years over the influence of Iran on the Shia-majority country, however, whose militias have actively coordinated with Iraqi counterparts, as well as government troops.
The number of troops increased during the fight against ISIS after the extremist group overran Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province. During the fight against the extremist group — which was ejected from the country in 2017 and is now confined to underground operations and small pockets in the Syrian desert — U.S. forces coordinated airstrikes to support militias on the ground, some of which were controlled by Iran.
Those militias have since proven to be hostile to the United States, as evidenced by numerous rocket attacks on American positions. Former President Trump infamously ordered the assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasam Soleimani in 2020 after a rocket attack on a U.S. consulate.
Critics have also raised concern over the lack of stability of the Iraqi government, which could again give rise to extremist groups and thus, leaving American troops open to attack.