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article imageOp-Ed: Iraqi parliament calls for US troops to leave Iraq

By Ken Hanly     Jan 5, 2020 in Politics
Today the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution to expel all foreign troops from the country as tensions are escalating between Iran and the US but between Iraq and the US as well after a US attack that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.
The US attack in Baghdad
A recent Bloomberg article reports:
"General Soleimani, who led the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, was killed in a car late Thursday by a Reaper drone capable of firing laser-guided weapons as he was leaving a Baghdad airport access road, a U.S. official said. The strike also killed the deputy commander of an Iraqi militia group, the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), who was with Soleimani."
An NPR article focuses on Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis the deputy leader of PMF: "Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed in a drone strike early Friday, is getting the vast majority of the media attention. But several others were also killed in the attack, including militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. For years, Muhandis has been one of the most important military figures in Iraq, as the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces."
Note that not only Soleimani was killed but the deputy commander of the PMF an Iraq group of militias that is approved and paid for by the Iraqi government and regarded as part of its forces. It is this action as much as the killing of Soleimani that will fuel Iraqi anger. Most news reports hardly mention this killing, as if it did not matter.
US earlier attacked Iraqi militia that is part of PMC
About a week ago a BBC article
noted: "Weapons caches and command and control centres at five sites associated with Kataib Hezbollah were hit on Sunday, the defence department said. An Iraqi paramilitary force said 25 fighters were killed and 51 injured." At the time Kataib Hezbollah leader Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, who is also known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, warned that the response of the group would be very tough on US forces in Iraq."
Kataib Hezbollah(KH) is an Iraq government approved and financed militia
Mainstream media often refer to the predominantly Shia militia within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces(PMF) as Iran-backed. However, they usually fail to note that they are Iraqi government approved and financed, and indeed are regarded much like regular forces. Wikipedia describes the PMF as follows: "The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as the People's Mobilization Committee (PMC) and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) (Arabic: الحشد الشعبي‎ al-Ḥashd ash-Shaʿbī),[22] is an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 militias that are mostly Shia Muslim groups, but also include Sunni Muslim, Christian, and Yazidi groups.[23][24] The popular mobilization units as a group was formed in 2014 and have fought in nearly every major battle against ISIL.[25] It has been called the new Iraqi Republican Guard after it was fully reorganized in early 2018 by its then-Commander in Chief Haider al-Abadi. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued "regulations to adapt the situation of the Popular Mobilization fighters," giving them ranks and salaries equivalent to other branches of the Iraqi military.[3]" KH is brigade 45 of the PMF.
Thus the US is attacking what are in effect security forces of the Iraqi government not Iran or simply Iran proxies. You would never know this from reading typical mainstream accounts.
The Iraqi parliament resolution
The resolution read:
"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 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."
Note the resolution contains no direct condemnation of the US attack nor does it even specifically mention the attack. The resolution is not a law and not binding so unless further legislation is passed the US can simply ignore it. The Iraqi PM Adel Mahdi had earlier called for an end to foreign troop presence. Mahdi had said that Iraq could immediately end the presence of foreign troops or reconsider a draft resolution that would tie the presence of US troops to training Iraqi security forces in the fight against ISIL.
Analyst Tareq Harb told Al Jazeera that the PM's call to eject US troops was in anticipation of a strong reaction and condemnation of the attack from the public and pro-Iran political and militia groups which have been calling for expulsion of US troops for days now. Harb said: "Abdul Mahdi had no option but to take a strong stance against the presence of US troops in Iraq. He was also been shrewd in taking such a stance as he leaves the decision in the hands of the parliament."
The resolution in itself does not order US troops expelled and critics regard it as weak.
Muqtadada al-Sadr's response
The Iraq Shia leader al-Sadr who heads the largest bloc in parliament was critical of the response: "I consider this a weak response insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation....Finally, I call specifically on the Iraqi resistance groups and the groups outside Iraq more generally to meet immediately and announce the formation of the International Resistance Legions." Al-Sadr demanded the immediate cancellation of the security agreement with the US, closure of the US embassy and the expulsion of US troops in a humiliating manner.
The Iraqi government will no doubt be subject to demonstrations against it demanding more actions against the US in Iraq. Meanwhile, the mainstream media seem to be fixated on the Iranian reaction to the US attack while completely ignoring the situation in Iraq. This is no doubt because the US official narrative considers the PMF , part of Iraq's own security forces simply as proxies for Iran. The mainstream media simply goes along with this narrative. The appended video is from a Turkish channel.
It appears unlikely that there will be any concrete move to remove US troops from Iraq and the US can safely ignore the Iraqi parliamentary resolution.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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