International desk, Jan 05: Iraq’s parliament has passed a resolution calling on the government to expel foreign troops from the country as tensions escalate between the United States and Iran on Iraqi soil following the killing of Qassem Soleimani.“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” the resolution read.
“The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”
Parliament resolutions, unlike laws, are non-binding and the move would require new legislation to cancel the existing agreement.
Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi also called on Parliament to end foreign troop presence.
Abdul Mahdi stepped down in November amid months-long mass anti-government protests but remains in a caretaker position.
In an address to Parliament ahead of the vote on Sunday, Abdul Mahdi said the decline of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), over which Baghdad declared victory in December 2017, put an end to the main reason for the presence of US forces in the country.
“Iraq has two options,” he said, adding that the country can either put an immediate end to the presence of foreign troops or reconsider a draft resolution that ensures the presence of US troops is tied to training Iraqi security forces in the fight against ISIL.
Ahead of the vote, chants of: “No, no, America .. long live Iraq”, rang out inside the hall.
The move comes after Iranian Major-General Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were killed on Friday near Baghdad’s international airport in an air raid ordered by US President Donald Trump.
The attack came just days after the paramilitary Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation Forces, or PMF) members and supporters attempted to storm the US embassy in Baghdad, angry at US air attacks against Kataib Hezbollah – a member of the umbrella organisation – positions in Iraq and Syria.
Baghdad-based analyst Tareq Harb told Al Jazeera that Abdul Mahdi’s calls to expel US troops in Iraq was in anticipation of a strong reaction from the Iraqi public and pro-Iran political and armed groups which have called for an end to foreign presence over the past few days.
“Abdul Mahdi had no option but to take a strong stance against the presence of US troops in Iraq,” Harb told Al Jazeera. “He was also been shrewd in taking such a stance as he leaves the decision in the hands of the parliament.”
Commenting on the resolution, Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr said the move fell short of an appropriate response to recent development in Iraq and called on foreign armed groups to unite.
“I consider this a weak response insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation,” al-Sadr, who leads the Sairoon bloc, the largest parliament, said in a letter to the assembly read out by a supporter.
Al-Sadr listed a number of demands including the immediate cancellation of the security agreement with the US, the closure of the US embassy, the expulsion of US troops in a “humiliating manner”, and criminalising communication with the US government.
“Finally, I call specifically on the Iraqi resistance groups and the groups outside Iraq more generally to meet immediately and announce the formation of the International Resistance Legions,” he said.