Many are upset by Trump's statement, saying that the "US forces are departing from their initial mission to fight terrorism, the reason for which they are allowed to stay in Iraq." Iraqi President Barham Saleh commented that the US administration did not ask Iraq's permission for US troops stationed in the country to "watch Iran".
US forces have been deployed in Iraq in large numbers since 2014 when ISIS occupied a third of the country. The US establishment under president Obama refrained from rushing to support the Iraqi government, leaving room for Iran to act rapidly and send weapons and military advisers to Baghdad and Erbil. The intentionally slow US reaction pushed the Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani to call for the mobilization of the population, a call that led to the creation of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), known as Hashd al-Shaabi, which managed to stop ISIS' advance.