Skip to content

Oklahoma Professor Calls for U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Syria and Iraq,


Feb. 1, 2024 (EIRNS)—Joshua Landis, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, in a column posted in Responsible Statecraft, argues that U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq and Syria for the simple reason that they’re not wanted. To keep them there would lead to more Americans being killed. “Washington must minimize its risks. To dig in and escalate would be a mistake that is likely to lead to more Americans killed. The mission that brought U.S. troops to Iraq and Syria—to destroy ISIS—has been accomplished. Residual policing of ISIS remnants can be undertaken from bases in Qatar, Kuwait and Türkiye,” Landis writes.

“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,” Landis writes further. “But this analysis misunderstands the region and minimizes the dangers arrayed against U.S. troops. Iran has been committed to pushing U.S. troops out of Iraq and Syria, something its leaders articulated clearly following an earlier use of U.S. force, the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Suleimani in 2020. Iran will not back down if the U.S. assassinates more of its leaders or strikes infrastructure in Iran for the simple reason that it has the upper hand in the region.”

Landis also notes that the governments of Türkiye, Syria, and Iraq also want the U.S. military out and that all are taking actions to make the U.S. presence more difficult, as are the Iraqi Shi’ite militias. “Striking Iran will not solve America’s problems in the region,” he continues. “Biden’s support for Israel’s war against the Palestinians has inflamed anti-American and anti-Western feelings across the entire Arab world. It has breathed new life into the resistance front. Only yesterday, most Arabs scoffed at it for being impotent and doing nothing to deter Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians. Because of Gaza, Arabs are once again rooting for resistance.

“The notion that several thousand American soldiers can be kept safe while hunkered down in desert bases sprinkled across the great expanse of this region is a mirage,” Landis concludes. “No one wants them there, not the governments and not the people. All are sharpening their knives and devising new ways to weaken them and force them to leave. It is pointless for Washington to keep them there for a mission that has long since passed its expiration date or to escalate a war it cannot win.”