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Battle over U.S. Troops in Iraq Shifts from the Streets to the Parliament

Jan. 2, 2020 (EIRNS)—Calm apparently returned to the Green Zone in Baghdad including the U.S. Embassy compound, when protesters withdrew yesterday afternoon, reportedly in response to orders from the leadership of the Popular Mobilization Commission, which oversees the Shi’ite militias known as the Hashd al Shaabi. According to AFP, the Hashd called on its supporters to leave the embassy and regroup outside the Green Zone “out of respect for the state.... You delivered your message,” it said in a statement. AFP’s photographer saw protesters dismantling their tents andleaving the Green Zone. Kataeb Hezbollah, the group targeted by U.S. air strikes on Dec. 29, initially told AFP it would stay at the embassy, but later said it had decided to abide by the Hashd order. “We scored a huge win: we arrived to the U.S. embassy, which no one had done before,” spokesman Mohammad Mohyeddin told AFP.

Kataeb Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias represented by the major political factions in Baghdad have shifted to the Iraqi parliament their battle to get the U.S. military out of Iraq. Fatih, the largest bloc expected to be joined by Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and Moqtada al Sadr’s Sairoon bloc. “We have a parliament, and the American presence can be rejected through law, to expel American forces through legal and constitutional means,” Saad al-Husseini, a Fatih MP, told Rudaw on Jan. 1. “We have a democratic process today, and if the law to expel U.S. forces is legislated, we will resort to voting, and God willing, we will garner enough votes to have it passed,” he stated. Whether this means they’ll have enough support to succeed in passing such legislation remains to be seen.

The U.S. military is complaining that the anti-U.S. protests are hindering the fight against ISIS. “The coalition forces are here to assist Iraq in its fight against Daesh. Missile bombing of coalition and Iraqi forces, and crowd violence at the American Embassy, organized by the Hezbollah Brigades, prevents us from assisting,” the U.S. military command tweeted on Dec. 31.

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