Jan 15, 2020

Biden: "I would leave troops in the Middle East"

As tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran, former Vice President Joe Biden said he would leave troops in the Middle East to continue fighting ISIS, and accused President Trump of lying about Iran's imminent attack against American embassies to keep troops in the region.

"I think it's a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS. What's happened is, now that he's gone ahead, the president and started this whole process moving, what's happening?"
 "We -- ISIS is going to reconstitute itself. We're in a position where we have to pull our forces out. Americans have to leave the entire region. And quite frankly, I think [Trump has] flat-out lied about saying that the reason he went after -- the reason he made the strike was because our embassies were about to be bombed."
— Former Vice President Joe Biden

Backdrop: After Trump ordered a strike killing Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel American troops from Iraq. The strike against Soleimani further strained relations between Iran and the U.S.

Go deeper... Focus group: Pennsylvania swing voters stand with Trump on Iran

Go deeper

Iran's proxies in the Middle East

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Behrouz Mehri/Getty Staff, Anadolu Agency/Getty Contributor, Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Contributor

Iran has built up a vast network of proxies through which it wields influence across the Middle East, and which could take action to stoke tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Why it matters: The political parties and militias that are influenced by and act on behalf of Iran likely pose a more direct threat to U.S. targets than Iran itself, the Washington Post writes.

Go deeperArrowJan 18, 2020 - World

Pentagon: 34 U.S. troops suffered brain injuries following Iran attack

The Ain al-Asad U.S. military airbase in Iraq nearly a week after Iran launched a wave of missiles. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

During a press conference Friday, Department of Defense spokesperson Jonathan Rath Hoffman announced 34 U.S. troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following Iran's attack on U.S. bases in Iraq on Jan. 7.

The state of play: Hoffman confirmed 8 of the 34 troops have returned to the U.S., while 16 of the injured were treated in Iraq and have returned to service. Iran's attack came after a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Go deeper: Trump says "all is well" after Iranian strikes on bases hosting U.S. troops

Keep ReadingArrowJan 24, 2020

NYT: U.S. resumes military operations with Iraq

A U.S. soldier walks past a drone on Jan. 13 during a press tour at the Ayn al Asad air base in Iraq. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

American troops resumed joint military operations with Iraq on Wednesday, the New York Times reports, citing two anonymous U.S. military officials.

Why it matters: Operations are rebooting two weeks after thousands of protesters and militia fighters swarmed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad protesting U.S. airstrikes in the country, which predated the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Go deeperArrowJan 16, 2020