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World Middle East 05 Jan 2020 Iraq parliament vote ...

Iraq parliament votes to expel US military

AFP
Published Jan 5, 2020, 9:11 pm IST
Updated Jan 5, 2020, 9:23 pm IST
Lawmakers in Baghdad vote to get the US to withdraw 5000 troops from Iraq
In this image released by the US Defense Department, equipment assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division is loaded into aircraft bound for the US Central Command area of operations from Fort Bragg. - Thousands more US troops were ordered to the Middle East after the US assassinated Iran's military mastermind and Tehran promised "severe revenge." (AFP)
 In this image released by the US Defense Department, equipment assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division is loaded into aircraft bound for the US Central Command area of operations from Fort Bragg. - Thousands more US troops were ordered to the Middle East after the US assassinated Iran's military mastermind and Tehran promised "severe revenge." (AFP)

Beirut: Iraq's parliament has voted to expel the US military from the country.

Lawmakers voted Sunday in favour of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country. The resolution's main aim is to get the US to withdraw some 5,000 US troops present in different parts of Iraq.

 

The vote comes two days after a US airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani inside Iraq, dramatically increasing regional tensions.

The Iraqi resolution specifically calls for ending an agreement in which Washington sent troops to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The resolution was backed by most Shiite members of parliament, who hold a majority of seats.

Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal.

While Iraqi lawmakers urged the government to oust US troops deployed across the country, Iraqi protesters flooded the streets on Sunday to denounce both Iran and the US as "occupiers", angry that fears of war between the rivals was derailing their anti-government movement.

 

For three months, youth-dominated rallies in the capital and Shiite-majority south have condemned Iraq's ruling class as corrupt, inept and beholden to Iran. For protesters who were hitting the streets, Iran was also a target for blame.

"No to Iran, no to America!" chanted hundreds of young Iraqis as they marched through the southern protest hotspot of Diwaniyah.

Young children present carried posters in the shape of Iraq and waved their country's tri-colour.

"We're taking a stance against the two occupiers: Iran and the US," one demonstrator told AFP.

 

Nearby, a teenage girl held a handwritten signing reading: "Peace be on the land created to live in peace, but which has yet to see a single peaceful day."

Iraqi helicopters circled above, surveying the scene.

When Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US air strike, some Iraqi protesters initially rejoiced, having blamed Soleimani for propping up the government they have been trying to bring down since early October.

But joy swifty turned to worry, as protesters realised pounding war drums would drown out their calls for peaceful reform of Iraq's government.

 

In a bold move, young protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah blocked a mourning procession for Soleimani and top Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis from reaching their protest camp.

Outraged pro-Iran mourners fired on the protesters, wounding three, medical sources told AFP.

"We refuse a proxy war on Iraqi territory and the creation of crisis after crisis," said student Raad Ismail.

"We're warning them: don't ignore our demands, whatever the excuse," he said.

The demonstrators are calling for early parliamentary voting based on a new electoral law. They hope this would bring transparent and independent lawmakers to parliament.

 

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