After this week, it was all but inevitable.
Iraq’s parliament has voted to expel US troops from the country.
In the wake of the drone strikes which killed Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, rival Shia political leaders united around a push to order American troops out of Iraq.
“We call on all national forces to unify their stance in order to expel foreign troops whose presence has become pointless in Iraq”, Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization said Friday.
With Moqtada al-Sadr’s support, it was likely (if not a foregone conclusion) that parliament would move to expel the US presence for good.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi – who is now acting in a caretaker capacity after resigning following the October protests – remains at the helm of the government thanks to Soleimani, who effectively instructed Amiri and al-Sadr to keep him in power.
Mahdi had called for an extraordinary session of parliament to “take legislative steps and necessary provisions to safeguard Iraq’s dignity, security and sovereignty”.
A decision to compel the government to ask US troops to leave the country required a simple majority, which apparently meant 165 lawmakers needed to vote in favor. Sadr and Amiri controlled 100 seats directly, not counting allies.
According to media reports, parliament approved a multi-point plan requiring the government to end the presence of foreign troops in the country, withdraw its request for help from the anti-ISIS global coalition and ban the use of Iraqi airspace by any foreign power. (That will not include Iran, by the way.) Here’s The New York Times:
Members of Iraq’s Parliament were divided on the demands to expel American troops from the country. While factions that grew out of Shiite militia organizations have pushed hard for the expulsion, Sunni Muslim factions and the Kurds want the United States to stay.
The vote was 170-0 in Parliament, but many of its 328 members, primarily Kurds and Sunnis, did not attend the session and did not vote.
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.
“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory”, the resolution reads. “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”.
US troops leaving the country “would be the best option to establish a strong friendship with the US and other countries, based on mutual respect for sovereignty”, Mahdi said in an address to lawmakers.
The hilarious irony is that, assuming this is the final word on the matter, Trump will have accidentally made good on his campaign promise to extricate America from the quagmire in Iraq – by escalating it so far that Shia lawmakers demanded he leave.
Prior to the vote, Hezbollah boss Hassan Nasrallah asked Iraq to rid itself of the US occupation. A portrait of Nasrallah hangs in the home of Qassem Soleimani.
Speaking in Farsi with an Arabic voice over to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, Zeinab Soleimani – the general’s daughter – called Trump a coward. “[You should have] stood face to face in front of him”, rather than killing him with missiles, she said.