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.”
The secretary’s remark echoes long standing criticism of former President Barack Obama for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq until 2011, including from President Donald Trump. The withdrawal is thought by many experts to have facilitated the rise of ISIS in the first place prompting a renewed U.S. mission in Iraq in 2014.
The rise of ISIS hinges on a status of forces agreement signed by the Bush administration in 2008 that expired in 2011. Obama and his defenders say they could not re-negotiate the terms of the agreement despite their best efforts and bent to the will of the Iraqi government at the time.
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