The Iraqi Parliament has decided to ask for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country for violating the terms of their presence. The US has broken its contractual obligations to the government of Baghdad and affronted the sovereignty of Iraq, jeopardising its stability. Sources at the Prime Minister’s office said “the request for withdrawal is imminent. US forces have violated the agreement. Therefore, the agreement is now null and void. The agreement had stipulated that US forces were to be given one year’s notice for withdrawal, but since the US broke the terms of the agreement, this time horizon no longer applies.”
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi informed all countries with military forces in Iraq — the USA, and its coalition partners the UK, Canada, France, Belgium, Denmark, etc. – of the urgency that they initiate withdrawal as soon as possible. So far, I have learned, no country has responded positively to the request via diplomatic channels. Only the US has even answered the Iraqi government, openly declaring its refusal to depart. Tremendous pressure and intimidation are being applied to the government to persuade it not to carry out the constitutional decision voted by the parliamentary majority.
“I can only see one solution ahead: to inform the country that the United States is defying the will of the Iraqi people, and to declare the US military an occupation force if all diplomatic means are exhausted”, said the source.
US officials have overtly refused the lawful democratic decision of the parliament – the democracy that the US claimed to have imported to the country in 2003 – and insist on remaining in Iraq. US Secretary Mike Pompeo described the Iraqi decision as “non-binding”. Nevertheless, no foreign military force can stay in a hostile society, notwithstanding the number of military bases and the massive army power under its control.
The Iraqi Shia, 66% of the 40 million Iraqi population, are expressing their hatred towards US forces in particular and all foreign forces in general. Iraq would like to see these forces depart for good, putting an end to US influence in Mesopotamia and West Asia. A massive protest has been organised for this Friday 24th January, led by Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, who is warning the US of the consequences of ignoring this Parliamentary decision. It is expected to be the most massive protest in the history of Iraq. But this protest is only the beginning.
US forces have committed serious crimes in Iraq: according to Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, the US Ambassador in Baghdad informed him of Israel’s responsibility for the five attacks against Iraqi security forces in mid-2019 and the drone assassination of a security force commander on the Syrian-Iraqi borders. These Israeli attacks were carried out with the knowledge and permission of US forces in Iraq, who allowed Israel to violate Iraqi air space and kill its security members. That attack made the US – who maintain control over Iraqi air space – an accomplice of Israel in attacking the US host country, Iraq.
In December 2019, the Trump administration committed another crime, disregarding the Iraqi government and killing more Iraqis intentionally and without any legal basis. US jets attacked Iraqi forces’ positions on the borders with Syria, killing and wounding 79 officers and members of the Iraqi Army, the Federal Police and the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) brigades 45 and 46. The US singled out an encampment of the Iraqi Security Forces, who are based on the borders to hunt down ISIS militants moving through the Syrian-Iraqi deserts.
These forces are under the direct command of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi. The US accused Iraqi soldiers at this encampment of attacking its K1 base 540 km away. The US had no proof that the dozens of officers its Air Forces killed in its subsequent bombing attack had been behind the killing of an Iraqi born US contractor at the K1 base. The US even refused to provide any evidence of this when requested to do so by the Iraqi Prime Minister prior to the attack.
Thus, already in 2019, the terms of the US mandate in Iraq had been violated. Then the US very recently committed another crime against Iraq by assassinating an Iraqi commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes and three Iraqi officers at Baghdad airport. It further showed its contempt for international law by assassinating an Iranian Major General, Sardar Qassem Soleimani, and four Iranian officers (Brigadier General Hossein PourJafari, Colonel Shahroud Mozaffarinia, Major Hadi Taremi, and Captain Vahid Zamanian) even though the US had not declared war on Iran. Trump boasted provocatively about the assassination, bragging about “killing two for the price of one”.
Further evidence of US contempt for diplomatic protocol was provided by Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi, when he declared that President Trump had phoned him to ask his mediation to de-escalate tension with Iran. Abdel Mahdi said that “Soleimani arrived in Iraq at my request to receive a response from Saudi Arabia to Iran’s peace initiative. Trump killed a foreign officer on a territory he is supposed to protect and an envoy of peace who landed at the request of the Prime Minister”. But that is not all: it was public knowledge, as announced by Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (11 June 2016), that Soleimani enjoys immunity in Iraq as an advisor – at the official request of Iraq – to fight ISIS.
It is inaccurate to say “Soleimani was plotting against US citizens just as he had done for years”. President Trump and his administration provided no evidence for such a claim. warmongering politicians and academics recall only the US occupation of Iraq and the support of Soleimani for the Iraqi resistance, accusing Soleimani of “having the blood of US soldiers on his hands during the US military occupation of Iraq”.
However, “the Security Council has not explicitly condemned attacks upon coalition forces—that would undercut the inherent right of self-defence against foreign invasion and occupation.” It is argued that “the invasion of Iraq was an illegal act (war)of aggression, and that those responsible for it are war criminals” (Mandel, 2004: McGoldrick, 2004).
Therefore, armed resistance against the occupation forces in Iraq at that time was entirely legitimate. The response of resistance, and its consequences for the US-led occupation forces, who in 2003 acknowledged their status as an occupation force, cannot be called an act of terrorism. Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani cannot be responsible for crimes against an occupier who never found the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that it had used as a pretext for invasion. The US invaded Iraq with no legal basis, causing mass destruction to the Iraqi population and the country’s infrastructure, killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
We have now learned from the horse’s mouth why Trump killed Soleimani: the Iranian Major General was “saying bad things” about the US. “How much of this shit do we have to listen to? How much are we going to listen to?” Trump told his donors.
The US continues to allow Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to violate Iraqi airspace by permitting Israeli jets to bomb Syria from the Iraqi-Syrian borders occupied by the US forces at al-Tanf. Officials in Baghdad said “the US forces have no respect for their agreement with Iraq. For some time now, they have been behaving like an occupation force. This is not the first time this has happened. We inform Syria about it every time this takes place”.
The many crimes committed by the US in the Middle East, its violations of international law, and Iraqi sovereignty, in particular, did not begin with President Trump. But Trump and his team took things to a new level in 2018 when he renounced the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA that is part of UNSC resolution 2231. He didn’t like it because it was “ Barack Obama’s agreement”. Trump thus made the Middle East even more unstable and has brought the region to the brink of war. As he insists on keeping US forces in Iraq, he will one day soon have to explain to Americans why in the face of local resistance to the US occupation US soldiers are dying.