Parliament has backed a resolution to ask the government to end the agreement to host US troops in Iraq. The move would oust US troops and all other foreign soldiers, including those from Germany, from the country.
In an extraordinary session, lawmakers voted for a resolution to ask the government to end an agreement with Washington to station 5,200 troops in Iraq.
“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 read.
“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.”
Germany seeks ‘stability and unity’
The decision to expel forces from the country also includes representations from other nations, among them Germany’s. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) expressed his concerns over the increasing tensions in the Middle East, but also iterated that the Iraqi government’s position must be respected.
“Our overriding interest is that stability and unity in Iraq is not falling victim to the recent escalation.” Maas stressed. On the Iraqi government, the German foreign minister added: “We will respect every decision.”
Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said that officials are preparing a memo for legal and procedural steps to implement parliament’s resolution. The militia leader also said that if US troops remains then they will be considered an occupying force.
The resolution will also apply to other countries’ armies. The German government said later on Sunday that their military presence in Iran would “only remain if the Iraqi government want that.”
What does the resolution mean?
The resolution is nonbinding, but it is likely to be heeded by the government as Abdul-Mahdi supports the measures.
The resolution was passed two days after the US killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Iraq, by airstrikes.
“The parliament has voted to commit the Iraqi government to cancel its request to the international coalition for help to fight IS,” Parliament Speaker Mohammed Halbusi announced.
“I consider this a weak response, insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation,” said Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in parliament, in a letter to the assembly read aloud by a supporter.
Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in 2019
Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi also told parliament that Soleimani was due to meet him the day he was killed and deliver a response from the Iranians to a Saudi message that could have led to a de-escalation of tensions in the region, according to Reuters news agency.
Iraqi officials have also summoned the US envoy to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, over the airstrikes.
“[The airstrikes] were a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty,” the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. They “contradict the agreed-upon missions of the international coalition.”
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry also lodged an official complaint with the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council over the US airstrikes on Sunday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi
The complaint is about “American attacks and aggression on Iraqi military positions and the assassination of Iraqi and allied high-level military commanders on Iraqi soil,” according to the Foreign Ministry.
Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi, who was in attendance in parliament on Sunday, urged parliament to end the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.
“Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically,” he told MPs.
Abdul-Mahdi, who resigned on December 1 but has remained in place as caretaker prime minister, also urged lawmakers to vote for a new prime minister and government as soon as possible.
Later Sunday, at least three explosions reverberated across the Iraqi capital as sirens could be heard near the Tigris River.
The blasts appeared to be mortars or rockets that landed inside, or near, the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the US embassy and a number of other foreign diplomatic missions, as well as the seat of Iraq’s government.
Initially, at least, no casualties were reported after what was the second attack of its nature in the last 48 hours.