Rex Tillerson testified that U.S. forces won’t be leaving Iraq for a very long time:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson vowed the U.S. will remain in Iraq to fight the Islamic State whether the central government wants them there or not, in a Monday evening testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“We will remain in Iraq until ISIS is defeated and we are confident that ISIS has been defeated,” Tillerson declared, however, noting that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “has given to me no indication he is in any particular hurry to have us depart.”
Since there will probably always be some remnant or splinter group that claims to be ISIS or its successor, the administration is committing the U.S. to continued fighting in Iraq for years if not decades to come. Linking the U.S. presence to the “defeat” of a particular jihadist group practically guarantees that the U.S. will have forces fighting there forever. The presence of American forces in Iraq will continue to serve as a magnet for jihadists to come to that country and as a boost for their recruiting, so their final “defeat” will prove elusive no matter how long U.S. forces stay there. The U.S. doesn’t need to keep fighting indefinitely in Iraq, and it should take the opportunity it has now to disentangle itself from that country as much as it possibly can.