Date
12 January 2020
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends a parliament session in Baghdad on Sunday. Credit: Govt handout picture via Reuters
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends a parliament session in Baghdad on Sunday. Credit: Govt handout picture via Reuters

Iraq parliament seeks foreign troop expulsion after airstrike

Iraq’s parliament has called for US and other foreign troops to leave the country amid growing anger over the US killing of a top Iranian military commander who had been on a visit to Baghdad.

Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed on Friday in a US drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport, an attack that carried US-Iranian hostilities into uncharted waters.

On Sunday, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to all foreign troop presence, reflecting the fears of many in Iraq that the strike could engulf them in another war between two bigger powers, Reuters reports.

“The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, air space or water for any reason,” the parliament said in the resolution.

Sunday’s parliamentary resolution was passed by overwhelmingly Shi’ite lawmakers, as the special session was boycotted by most Sunni Muslim and Kurdish lawmakers.

While such resolutions are not binding on the government, this one is likely to be heeded, given that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had earlier called on parliament to end foreign troop presence as soon as possible, the report noted.

The United States said it was disappointed in the result.

“While we await further clarification on the legal nature and impact of today’s resolution, we strongly urge Iraqi leaders to reconsider the importance of the ongoing economic and security relationship between the two countries and the continued presence of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

Some 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most in an advisory role.

Abdul Mahdi said that despite the “internal and external difficulties” the country might face, canceling its request for help from US-led coalition military forces “remains best for Iraq on principle and practically.”

He said he had been scheduled to meet Soleimani the day he was killed, and that the general had been due to deliver an Iranian response to a message from Saudi Arabia that Abdul Mahdi had earlier passed to Tehran.

Saudi Arabia and Iran had been about to “reach a breakthrough over the situation in Iraq and the region”, Abdul Mahdi said.

On Sunday, Iran lambasted US President Donald Trump after he threatened to hit 52 Iranian sites if Tehran attacks Americans or US assets in retaliation for Soleimani’s death.

As Washington and Tehran traded threats and counter-threats, the European Union, Britain and Oman urged them to make diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis.

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