LATER this month I will be returning to Iraq. The timing of my trip to the country could not have come at a more resonant moment as US foreign policy under the Biden administration recalibrates itself in the wake of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Few countries will have looked on more anxiously at events unfolding in Kabul these past weeks than Iraq. What, I can’t help wondering for example, will Iraqis have made of Joe Biden’s speech 24 hours after the last American soldier left Kabul?

“​​This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” the US president pointed out in what he described as a new era in US foreign policy.

For those Iraqis listening to such remarks, it will not have passed their notice that in 2011, exactly 11 years to the day before Biden’s speech, it was another US president, Barack Obama, who announced the end of the US “combat mission” in Iraq.

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It will not be lost on Iraqis either, especially Kurds, that just four years later America was back after the US-trained and equipped Iraqi security forces collapsed leaving three provinces and swathes of Northern Iraq at the mercy of the Islamic State (IS) group.

At the peak of its self-styled caliphate in 2014, IS controlled massive territory in both Iraq and Syria equal in size to the UK and it took three years for Iraq with US-led Western help to reclaim its major cities, culminating in the nine-month bitterly contested struggle to retake Mosul.

Yes, it’s a fair bet that events in Afghanistan these past weeks will have given Iraqis a real sense of déjà vu. It will also no doubt find them now wondering whether history is about to repeat itself given that America is due to pull out its troops from Iraq by the end of this year. Some people, of course, will argue that all of this is no bad thing, and that America or UK should never have been in Iraq or Afghanistan in the first place.

READ MORE: David Pratt: There are lessons for us all in tragic Afghanistan crisis

I do get such a viewpoint and find it hard to refute. But having said that, we are where we are and as almost any Afghan would likely tell you right now, the US leaving is one thing, how they do it and what they leave behind is something else entirely. Iraqis, it goes without saying, will have similar concerns.

While right now one needs to be careful in making simple comparisons between Afghanistan and Iraq there are some very striking parallels.

“Like Afghanistan, Iraq has a divided government that prioritises patronage politics over competent security force governance and other government services. If anything, the Iraqi government and the collapsed Afghan one competed over who was more corrupt,” observed Bilal Wahab, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writing in Foreign Policy magazine last month.

Like many analysts he points out too how like in Afghanistan, the Iraqi government and military has often been reluctant to confront many of the militias that threaten the country’s stability and how they lack political will.

Having as it does a well drilled counter-terrorism force the Iraqis are happy to unleash them against the likes of IS but not against the myriad other militias often supported by neighbouring Iran that pose real problems and challenges within Iraq.

The National: ISIS 2.0

With Iran in for the long haul in supporting such militias, many senior Iraqi officials doubt that Washington is likewise committed, especially after what happened in Afghanistan. Observers point out that this current US administration, is pretty much the same one that bailed out of Iraq back in 2011 and to all intents and purpose looks likely to do the same again.

FOR his part Biden has made it clear America wants out and reiterated that again to Iraq’s beleaguered prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi when he flew to Washington in July.

Seen from the Biden administration’s perspective Washington hopes that al-Kadhimi will move to strengthen the government in Baghdad and the US will offer its support but is not inclined to deploy substantial numbers of combat forces to Iraq.

Currently there are 2500 US troops in Iraq and while the talk is of pulling them out as in Afghanistan, some regional watchers say this is really only window dressing and will not actually result in a US drawdown but instead these troop numbers will simply be “redeployed” in an “advisory” capacity.

As Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Syria, recently noted, without a military presence in Iraq there can be no US presence in eastern Syria, and all supplies for that mission come through Iraqi Kurdistan. Russia and Iran would easily stand to make strategic gains from no US presence in Iraq.

There are other crucial differences too between Afghanistan and Iraq as one senior Iraqi Kurdish official recently highlighted. Speaking on Voice of America radio last week, the region’s vice president for security affairs Sheikh Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa, said that Iraq was unlikely to share Afghanistan’s fate because power was not centralised in a single ruling clique or group as it has been in Afghanistan.

Unlike Afghanistan too there is also a greater degree of US bipartisan support for staying the course in Iraq with some politicians in Washington weighing strongly against a withdrawal from the country and neighbouring Syria.

And so, the fate of Iraq might in fact turn out to be very different from that of Afghanistan.

But my own impression remains that many Iraqis don’t buy into such reassurances and continue to be unnerved by what they have seen the US do in Afghanistan.

A return of IS, greater control by Iranian backed militias, a potential civil war, all this weighs heavily on the minds of Iraqis who are no strangers to the vagaries of US foreign policy and its impact.

If Joe Biden means what he says and what we are now seeing is a recalibration of US foreign, policy then Iraqi nervousness is understandable. As the shock events of Afghanistan and takeover by the Taliban have so devastatingly shown, anything is possible.