US remains in Iraq, including Kurdistan Region, top diplomat reassures amid concerns

Mr. Robert Palladino, the US Consul General in Erbil, speaks during a press conference, August 30, 2021. (Photo: Screengrab/Kurdistan 24)
Mr. Robert Palladino, the US Consul General in Erbil, speaks during a press conference, August 30, 2021. (Photo: Screengrab/Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US is staying in Iraq and its autonomous Kurdistan Region for a long time, the country’s representative in Erbil reassured on Monday as concerns arose following Afghanistan’s takeover by Taliban insurgents after American forces withdrew from the Asian country.

The remarks came during a press conference in which Robert Palladino, the US Consul General in Erbil, addressed a question that is being asked by many: “Will the United States stay in Iraq and Kurdistan Region or will it leave?”, following the latest Afghanistan developments, the diplomat said.

“The United States is staying in Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region,” Mr. Palladino said, adding that his country is on this journey “for the long haul”.

The withdrawal of US troops in Afghanistan after two decades of engagement and swift takeover of the country by Taliban insurgents have sent shockwaves across the globe.

In the latest rounds of strategic talks between the US and Iraq, which mainly focused on secuirty relationship between the two nations, the US decided to change the role of its military in Iraq to an advisory one. By the end of the year, the country will have withdrawn all of its combat troops from Iraq.

“The only thing that is ending,” by the end of the year is the combat role of the American forces, according to the US official.

“The situation in Iraq is different from Afghanistan,” Mr. Palladino said, recalling an American idiom and its Kurdish equivalent – you cannot compare apples to oranges.

The American diplomat said that it is in the best interest of both Iraq and the US to continue the “strategic partnership”.

Recently, President Masoud Barzani in a statement reassured residents of the Kurdistan Region that there is a “big difference” between Afghanistan and the autonomous region of Iraq. 

“Following Afghanistan's events, there are political and media efforts working towards creating doubts and disappointment among the people of Kurdistan Region by comparing it with Afghanistan,” President Masoud Barzani said in his statement.

Read More: Masoud Barzani seeks to reassure Kurdistan Region following Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

The US presence in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region is within the framework of the international anti-Islamic State coalition, created in 2014 to combat the looming threat of the terrorist organization, which had conquered a third of Iraq before being defeated in 2017.

“President Biden understands the importance of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region,” Mr. Palladino added.

The US is committed to the fight against ISIS, against which the battle is not over, the diplomat said.