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The U.S.-Iraqi Relationship Can Still Be Salvaged

The Trump Administration Should Mend Fences and Retain a Vital Troop Presence

A U.S. soldier in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, April 2003 Francesco Zizola / Redux

One of the most dramatic consequences of killing Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani is unfolding at a rapid pace: the severing of ties between the United States and Iraq. There is still time to salvage this most critical relationship, but doing so will depend on the willingness and ability of the Trump administration to change the tone of the conversation in very short order. The current U.S. approach—calling for sanctions against Iraq if it demands the exit of American forces—risks unnecessarily creating an enemy out of a friend.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel all foreign forces from Iraqi territory, including the 5,200 U.S. forces currently in the country at the invitation of its government. Iraqi parliamentarians had threatened such moves on other occasions, such as last February, when U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted to keep American troops in Iraq

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