Iraq parliament wants U.S. troops out after Iranian general's death; Trump continues baiting Iran
Iraq’s parliament approved a resolution Sunday that calls for the removal of about 5,000 U.S. troops in the region following a U.S. airstrike that left an Iranian general and Iraqi military leader dead in Iraq, according to The Associated Press. The deaths of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhand Friday intensified an already burdened relationship between the United States and Iran, several leaders said in statements to the media and on social media. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah political group, said American troops “will pay the price” for the general’s death. “The suicide attackers who forced the Americans to leave from our region in the past are still here and their numbers have increased,” Nasrallah said in a speech the AP covered.
Iraqi government officials stated in the resolution Al Jazeera obtained: “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.”
But because the resolution is not binding in the same way law is, Iraqi religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr said it didn’t go far enough and instead, urged foreign armies to unite against U.S. military interference and cancel a security agreement with the United States, according to Al Jazeera. “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,” he said in a letter Al Jazeera translated.
Foreign political leaders, American lawmakers, and even Pope Francis have publicly warned leaders to exercise self-control and refrain from adding fuel to an already threatening fire. “I call on all side to keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-control, and to avoid the shadows of enmity,” Pope Francis said during a Sunday blessing. But avoid not, President Donald Trump has obviously decided.
Before the pope’s words, he had already tweeted Saturday with reckless disregard for the safety of American troops and diplomats. He said in two tweets Saturday: “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have…targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”
The words prompted statement after statement of caution to Trump. “The President of the United States should never threaten on Twitter or anywhere else to target another country’s non-millitary cultural sites,” physician and Trump critic Eugene Gu said in a tweet Saturday. “That is an act of evil terrorism with no strategic value whatsoever other than destroying people’s heritage and history.”
Still, Trump continued to dangle toxic bait. He said in another tweet Saturday: “They attacked us, & we hit back. If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!” He followed those words with yet another tweet: “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment. We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
Colin Kaepernick, the free-agent quarterback practically banned from the NFL for taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, said in two Twitter messages that there is “nothing new about American terrorist attacks against Black and Brown people for the expansion of American imperialism.” “America has always sanctioned and besieged Black and Brown bodies both at home and abroad,” he tweeted Saturday. “America militarism is the weapon wielded by American imperialism, to enforce its policing and plundering of the non white world.”
Protestors have for months been urging action from the Parliament to remove foreign troops in the Middle East. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told the Parliament Sunday before its vote on the resolution that Baghdad’s victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in December 2017 meant U.S. forces are no longer needed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, questioned the timing of the Trump administration’s airstrike Sunday on CNN and drew some interesting parallels between how Trump’s administration is handling questions about the air raid and how it handled questions about the president’s now-infamous call to the president of Ukraine allegedly asking for an investigation into a political rival in exchange for military aid.
Elizabeth Warren on the Qasem Soleimani strike: “I think that the question that we ought to focus on is why now? Why not a month ago and why not a month from now? And the answer from the administration seems to be that they can’t keep their story straight on this.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/3KOzhS6zzb
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 5, 2020
“Look, I think that people are reasonably asking about the timing and why it is that the administration seems to have all kinds of different answers,” Warren told the news network. “When the administration doesn’t seem to have a coherent answer for taking a step like this, and they have taken a step that moves us closer to war, a step that puts everyone at risk, and step that puts the military at risk and puts the diplomats in the region at risk.” Warren called the air raid an assassination on CNN. “Look, it was a targeted attack on a government official, a high-ranking military official for the government of Iran, and what it’s done is move this country closer to war,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said.
When CNN journalist Chuck Todd questioned U.S. Sec. Mike Pompeo on why he feels America is “absolutely” safer after Soleimani’s death, Pompeo said little to offer Americans any reassurances. “We do expect retaliations against American citizens, now correct,” Todd asked. Pompeo responded: “Chuck, you’re concentrating on the second and the moment. President Trump is focused deeply on keeping Americans safe over the long haul. Preserving, protecting, defending America is the mission that we have. It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim, that the Iranians make the choice to respond. I hope that they don’t.”
WATCH: @chucktodd presses @SecPompeo on his statement that America is “absolutely” safer today after the killing of Soleimani. “We do expect retaliation on American citizens, correct?””It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim.” #MTP #IfItsSunday pic.twitter.com/xYqM7ZYFOd
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 5, 2020