The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution Sunday calling on the government to expel U.S. troops from the country in response to the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the leader of an Iraqi militia on its soil.
Why it matters: The legal basis for the U.S. presence in Iraq is that it comes at Iraq’s invitation. This vote does not formally revoke that invitation, but it is a step along that path. A U.S. exit from Iraq could ultimately be one of the most consequential results of Soleimani’s killing because it would significantly hamper the fight against ISIS and achieve a major Iranian objective.
What they’re saying: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Iraq “cannot accept” a “political assassination” on its soil. He called the attack a grave violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
Mahdi also revealed that Soleimani was in Baghdad at the time of his killing to meet with him and relay Iran’s response to a Saudi request for dialogue.
Mahdi noted that he had personally worked to defuse the protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier in the week, going so far as to threaten to step down if the militia behind the protests did not disperse.
President Trump thanked him for that effort, he said, at the same time he was planning an attack inside Iraq without permission.
Mahdi, who resigned in November amid mass protests in Iraq but remains as caretaker prime minister, previously warned that President Trump’s decision would “light the fuse of war.”
Behind the scenes: U.S. military leaders were “stunned” that Trump gave the order to kill Soleimani, a step they viewed as the “most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq,” per the NY Times.
Trump administration officials have since said Trump had little choice because Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on U.S. and allied forces in the region, but they have presented no evidence of such plans.
The resolution passed today calls not only on U.S. troops to leave Iraq, but the entire international coalition fighting the Islamic State.