Video: Iraqis split on parliament’s call to expel foreign troops
Following the US killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on Iraqi soil earlier this month, Iraqi lawmakers have called on the government to expel all foreign forces deployed in the country. While some Iraqis support the call, others see the continued presence of the US-led coalition in Iraq as vital to protecting the country against the Islamic State (IS) group and other militia groups. FRANCE 24 reports.
On January 5, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to expel the US-led international coalition in Iraq, saying the deadly air strike near Baghdad's international airport two days earlier had been an unacceptable breach of Iraqi sovereignty. Not the least because the air strike had also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iran-backed militia group the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Ahmed al-Kanani, an MP for the Al Sadiqoun party which is the political wing of an armed Iraqi group that has close ties to Iran, was one of the lawmakers who had called for the resolution with the aim of ending foreign military presence in Iraq.
"The US and Pentagon stated explicitly they ordered the strike against Soleimani. We don't want them anymore. It was a declaration of war," he said.
But on the streets of Baghdad, where demonstrators have spent weeks calling for the government to resign, many believe the parliament is acting under influence of Iran rather than in the interest of the Iraqi people.
"We want to be free, without the United States and without Iran. What's been the benefit of having American troops here over the last sixteen years? What's the good of having Iran in Iraq?," one protester told FRANCE 24.
Other Iraqis, such as Khalid Alrawi who fled the IS group from the Sunni region of Al Anbar in 2015, see the US-led coalition presence as vital to maintaining security in parts of the country.
"In Iraqi Kurdistan and all Sunni regions, I would say that 90 percent of us do not want an American departure. The cities have been liberated from Daesh, but they are still in the desert," Alrawi said.
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