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Easier said than done: Making US troops actually leave Iraq will take more than parliament resolution

Easier said than done: Making US troops actually leave Iraq will take more than parliament resolution
The adoption of a resolution urging the expulsion of the US military from Iraq marks a very important step for the country, but actually making them leave will likely take more than that, analysts told RT.

A resolution calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops was adopted by the Iraqi parliament on Sunday. The non-binding document which the government is yet to consider came in response to the assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, as well as other Iranian and Iraqi military officials, including the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The high-profile officials were killed in a US airstrike on the outskirts of Baghdad earlier this week.

Washington appeared unnerved by the resolution. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the American military presence in the country, insisting that the Iraqis actually support it.

Also on rt.com Iraqi parliament passes resolution asking government to cancel request for assistance from US-led coalition

“We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign,” Pompeo told Fox News Sunday. He apparently missed the part where the US actually attacked the Iraqi forces. The PMF militia, which has been the key force in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is part of the country’s military, author and analyst Nicolas J.S. Davies said.

“There’s now a confrontation between the Iraqi government and the US government. The US has already attacked Iraq’s armed forces, that’s how this began,” Davies told RT. “The Iraqi government has every right to ask them to leave, and if the US resists this request then we have a huge confrontation.”

The killing of Soleimani and his associates came not only in blatant disregard of international norms, but breached the deal between Baghdad and Washington, Davies said; thus the latest move by Iraq’s parliament is not very surprising.

“The US is really just behaving like a rogue state at this point. All of it is just a flagrant violation of international law in so many ways,” he said, adding that US troops are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government.

Also on rt.com US-led coalition halts MOST operations, focuses on own forces’ protection in wake of Iranian general’s killing

The parliament’s decision is an “enormous development” for the country, which has moved a step closer to ending the enduring occupation, as well as for the whole region, political analyst and journalist Andre Vltchek believes.

“We never saw the US Army depart just because the parliament of the occupied country would vote that it should. So, this is not going to be easy for Iraq to get rid of the US and NATO military,” Vltchek told RT.

Washington is likely to employ “all sorts of tricks” to try and stay in the country, he said. Transferring its forces into the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region “as they did in the past” is one way. Still, the situation in the region has changed since the early stages of the 2003 invasion, and the local powers and groups seem to be showing significantly more unity, and the death of Soleimani could end up being a unifying moment.

The whole endeavor to try and expel US troops from Iraq might still flop, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof cautioned, since the country’s politicians – including the caretaker PM who is spearheading the effort now – were very reluctant to actually do so before the US attack.

“Prior to the assassination of General Soleimani, there was dissent within these Shia ranks, and that’s why you had no decision, because for months, there has been discussion of doing just this – possibly removing foreign troops, namely the US in particular, to avoid the very problem we’re having now,” he said.

The local forces have already been deemed capable of tackling the existing terrorist threat on their own – and now the US troops are “basically booted out” instead of departing after an accomplished mission, Maloof said.

“Now the question is – if ordered out, will the US forces leave? … If they do not, then they’ll become an occupying force once again.”

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