Iraq wants to kick out US troops

Lazy eyes listen


After a US airstrike killed a high-ranking militia commander in Baghdad nearly four years after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani threatened to initiate a procedure to evacuate international coalition forces from the country.

On Thursday, a US attack hit the headquarters of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organisation made up of dozens of armed factions. The strike killed at least two persons, including Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi, the leader of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HHN), which Washington has designated as a terrorist organisation reportedly supported by Iran.

The Popular Mobilization Forces represent an official presence affiliated with the state, subject to it, and an integral part of our armed forces,” the Iraqi prime minister stated on Friday. “We condemn the attacks targeting our security forces, which go beyond the spirit and letter of the mandate that created the international coalition.”

The Pentagon insisted that Baghdad itself had invited the American forces to help fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), and the 2,500 troops who are still in the country a decade later are free to act in “self-defense.” Press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder defended the January 4 strike as a “necessary, proportionate act,” amid a wave of attacks on American military installations in the region. 

Baghdad has claimed that it is time to reconsider the terms of that invitation, with Al Sudani offering to “start the dialogue through the bilateral committee that was formed to determine the arrangements for the end of this presence.”

“We affirm our principled position in ending the existence of the international coalition after the justifications for its existence have ended,” he stated. He went on to say that Baghdad wants to restore “national sovereignty over the land, sky, and waters of Iraq.”

Since October, more than 110 drone and missile strikes have targeted American military locations in Iraq, as well as unlawful outposts in neighbouring Syria, amid regional tensions fueled by Israel’s Gaza conflict. While the majority of the attacks were carried out by unidentified parties, Washington has accused Tehran of pulling the strings behind the scenes and has reserved the right to retaliate as it deems fit.

“We have repeatedly stated that in the event of a violation or transgression by any Iraqi party, or if Iraqi law is violated, the Iraqi government is the only party with the authority to investigate the merits of these violations,” said Iraq’s prime minister. He accused Washington of frequently infringing on Iraq’s sovereignty, recalling another “heinous act” by the US four years ago.

On January 3, 2020, Soleimani, a revered figure in Iran, was assassinated in a drone operation authorised by former US President Donald Trump in Baghdad. At the time, Washington alleged that Soleimani was planning a “imminent” strike on US forces. Two bombs smashed into an Iranian memorial on the fourth anniversary of his death, killing roughly 100 people.