Iraqi Lawmakers Vote to Expel U.S. Troops as Iran Mourns a Slain General
The vote in Parliament, after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani of Iran in a U.S. drone strike, is not final until Iraq’s prime minister signs the draft bill.
Credit…Hossein Mersadi/EPA, via Shutterstock
BAGHDAD — Lawmakers in Iraq voted on Sunday to urge the government to expel United States troops from the country after the United States ordered the killing of the Iranian leader of the elite Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, on Iraqi soil.
The decision came as hundreds of thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Iran to pay their respects to General Suleimani, the most powerful figure in the country after the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The vote is not final until Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq signs the draft bill. But since he drafted the language and submitted the bill to Parliament, there was little doubt he would sign it. Mr. Abdul Mahdi had urged lawmakers to oust the United States-led coalition after President Trump ordered a fatal drone strike against General Suleimani in the Baghdad airport.
Members of Iraq’s Parliament were divided on the demands to expel American troops. While factions that grew out of Shiite militia organizations have pushed hard for the expulsion, Sunni Muslim factions and the Kurds wanted the United States to stay.
American troops are in Iraq “at the invitation” of the Iraqi government, according to the legal agreement between Baghdad and Washington. Presumably, if Baghdad withdrew that invitation, the United States would have to withdraw.
RT/Moscow: Iraq’s parliament has voted to have foreign troops removed from the country, heeding a call from its caretaker prime minister. The move comes after the US assassination of a top Iranian general and a commander of Iraqi militia.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously, instructs the government to cancel a request for military assistance from the US-led coalition, which was issued in response to the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). With IS supposedly defeated, Iraq will not need foreign troops to fight the jihadists and can close its airspace to coalition aircraft.
The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.
According to Press TV, some Western military presence may remain for training purposes. The resolution says Iraqi military leadership has to report the number of foreign instructors that are necessary for Iraqi national security.
At the same time, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that Baghdad had turned to the UN Security Council with complaints about US violations of its sovereignty.
Speaking at an emergency parliament session on Sunday, Iraq’s caretaker PM Adil Abdul Mahdi said the American side notified the Iraqi military about the planned airstrike minutes before it was carried out. He stressed that his government denied Washington permission to continue with the operation.
Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically.
Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force, were killed by a drone strike as their convoy was leaving Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning.
The interim prime minister said after the incident it was clear that it was in the interest of both the US and Iraq to end the presence of foreign forces on Iraqi soil. Mahdi said Soleimani was on his way to meet him when the US airstrike killed the Iranian general.
Influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stated in a letter that Iraq should go further and shut down the US embassy.
Washington claims the assassination of Soleimani was an act of self-defense justified by his planning of attacks on American citizens. Tehran called it international terrorism and vowed to avenge the popular military officer.
In the wake of the attack, the US advised all American civilians to leave Iraq. US-led coalition troops in Iraq have also suspended all training operations and hunkered down at fortified bases, bracing for retaliatory strikes.