Skip to main content

Biden endorses lower troop levels in Iraq, fight against IS in interview

Joe Biden told Stars and Stripes he wants to stop "forever wars" but keep some troops in Iraq and Syria. His opponent, Donald Trump, also pledges to withdraw more troops.
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Bidenand his wife, Jill, greet family members of victims after laying a wreath in front of her brother, Leroy Homers name at the Wall of Names following a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorating the 19th Anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 and the September 11th terrorist attacks on September 11, 2020 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The nation is marking the nineteenth anniversary of the terror at

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden said he would end “forever wars” but keep some US troops in the Middle East if elected president.

Biden, the Democratic Party nominee facing President Donald Trump in the November election, gave an interview to the US Department of Defense-owned Stars and Stripes on Thursday.

In the interview, Biden said, “I support drawing down the troops.” He also said the Islamic State (IS) is still a threat, adding, “We still have to worry about terrorism.” Biden also told Stars and Stripes that the situation is complicated in Iraq and Syria and that he cannot guarantee a full withdrawal as a result.

Much of the interview focused on Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Biden's endorsement of a reduced but continuous military footprint in the region is not a new policy. His campaign website says he would remove most US troops from the Middle East and that the remaining forces would focus on IS and al-Qaeda.

Ending US wars in the Middle East has support on both sides of the aisle, with Trump often railing against “endless wars” in the region. On Wednesday, the US military announced it would reduce its footprint in Iraq from more than 5,000 troops to 3,000. Trump used the news that day to rally his base, tweeting, “Let’s bring them home” alongside a Fox News video that criticized the influence of arms manufacturers on US foreign policy.

If elected, Biden would conduct Middle East policy markedly differently than Trump does — their agreement on troop drawdowns not withstanding. Biden supports reentering the Iran nuclear deal under certain conditions and ending US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Biden’s support for keeping some US troops in Iraq could be influenced by President Barack Obama’s Iraq policies. Biden was vice president when Obama decided to remove all troops from Iraq in 2011 in fulfillment of his campaign promise. In 2014, IS swept through northern Iraq and the Obama administration sent forces back in as part of the global anti-IS coalition.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

Text Alerts - Be the first to get breaking news, exclusives, and PRO content.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial