The U.S. Should Start Planning Its Exit From Iraq and Syria

The U.S. Should Start Planning Its Exit From Iraq and Syria
A U.S. military vehicle is seen on a patrol in the countryside near the town of Qamishli, Syria, Dec. 4, 2022 (AP photo by Baderkhan Ahmad).

Attacks by Iran-linked armed groups on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq as well as the deaths of three U.S. soldiers in a January drone strike have once again prompted speculation over a possible U.S. military withdrawal from both countries.

That seems unlikely in the near term. Since the fatal attack in January, attacks on U.S. forces have subsided. And the Biden administration to unlikely to order another messy withdrawal of U.S. troops in an election year.

Yet a U.S. exit seems inevitable, at least from Syria. That raises the questions of why U.S. forces are still in Syria and Iraq, and how much longer they are likely to stay. Despite the fraught politics around withdrawal in Washington, it’s time policymakers start thinking about how best to bring those troops home.

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