News Release

Why Does the U.S. Have Troops in Syria and Iraq?


Reuters reports: “U.S. launches strikes in Iraq, Syria, nearly 40 reported killed.”

JOSHUA M. LANDIS,, @joshua_landis
Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Landis just wrote the piece “U.S. Troops Should Have Left Syria and Iraq Long Ago” for Responsible Statecraft.

He writes that recent events, including the killing of three U.S. soldiers “should prompt the United States to speed up its exit from Syria and Iraq, something policy makers have been contemplating for some time….

“Hawks in Washington insist that by striking Iran directly and hard, the U.S. can bring security to its troops, the danger will subside because Iran understands force. But this analysis misunderstands the region and minimizes the dangers arrayed against U.S. troops.”

Landis writes that the Syrian government is “determined to drive Americans from its soil. It accuses Washington of illegally occupying 30 percent of its territory and stealing its oil to subsidize the quasi-independent territory the U.S. has established in northeast Syria. As a consequence, the majority of Syrians languish in poverty and must survive with only a few hours of electricity per day, while the economy remains paralyzed by U.S. sanctions. They want the U.S. out.

“The Iraqi government is also demanding that U.S. troops leave. It was provoked into doing so by Washington’s January 4 assassination of Mushtaq al-Jawari, a leader of Harakat al-Nujaba, one of the Shi’a militias that belongs to the popular mobilization forces. Washington targeted him in retribution for an earlier attack on a U.S. base. Did this show of force cow the Harakat al-Nujaba or the popular mobilization forces? No. On the contrary, it led to an escalating drumbeat of missile and drone attacks on American bases.”

Also see from Responsible Statecraft: “Unreal: White House still denies Mideast turmoil linked to Gaza.”