Relations between Iraq and the United States have been strained throughout the beginning of this year following the assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani near Baghdad. The extrajudicial killing led to the Iraqi parliament voting in a bill which will see a total withdrawal of US troops from the country.
An Iraqi politician has stated that Baghdad will reject any attempt by the Trump administration to prolong the US military presence in the country during negotiations, pushing that talks between the two countries can only lead to a total withdrawal of American troops.
“The negotiations between Washington and Baghdad, which are to start in the middle of this month, would fail to produce any tangible results if they do not discuss the withdrawal of US forces from the country”, said Karim al-Muhammadawi, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s committee on security and defense, in an exclusive interview with the al-Maalomah news agency.
Muhammadawi said that the Iraqi government “must heed” the parliamentary vote in January ordering the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, “especially American troops”.
“The United States is trying to stay in Iraq and seeks to achieve that goal by exerting more pressure [on the Iraqi government] and revival of Daesh [Takfiri terrorist group]. The government must nip such attempts in the bud”, the Iraqi lawmaker said.
On 9 January, former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi demanded that the Trump administration send a delegation to Baghdad tasked with organising the withdrawal.
The 78-year-old said Iraq had rejected the violations of its sovereignty, in reference to US military actions which breached Iraqi airspace in the assassination of a leading Iranian general at the beginning of the year.
Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was killed in a targeted airstrike in January on the order of US President Donald Trump.
The move led to a split in relations between Baghdad and Washington, as the Iraqi government sees the extrajudicial killing as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and has also resulted in increased tensions with neighbouring Iran.
The US has maintained a military presence in Iraq since a 2003 invasion of the country which toppled former President Saddam Hussein.