US-Iran tensions

Kashmir Times. Dated: 1/10/2020 10:21:45 AM

The US should leave Iraq as soon as possible without provoking Iran because its actions may increase tensions in the region

A resolution passed by the Iraqi Parliament asking the American troops on Sunday is the first blow to the United States after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad Internal Airport on Friday last. The outcome of the resolution in Iraqi Parliament was on the expected lines in view of the fact its parliamentarians were under immense pressure from both the public and its armed forces to act against the US after the Friday killing. It has to be borne in mind that the US forces staying in Iraq have already over-stayed after they were welcome by the people of the country, but the pro-Iranian groups led demonstrations against the US outside its embassy in Baghdad for the past many months. In fact, the anger on the issue of economy slowdown, unemployment and rising prices of essential commodities have provided enough fuel to the educated youth in Iraq for such an action. Already, the ruling dispensation support by the US has been facing flak due to several issues facing the common masses. Moreover, the US troops, which are in Iraq on an invitation from the Iraqi government to fight the Islamic State, have carried out air strikes against Iraqi militias in the recent weeks without the approval from the Iraqi government. This triggered public protests and led to the siege of the US Embassy last week besides its entrances being set on fire. In an already explosive situation, the killing of General Soleimani acted as a catalyst. The anger among Iraqi lawmakers towards American actions was on full display inside the Parliament hall on Sunday when they chanted, 'America out, Baghdad remains free', before the voting. Parliament itself doesn't have the authority to expel foreign troops. But a resolution passed in Parliament is a call to the executive branch to act on this issue at the earliest. Iraqi Premier Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who condemned the killing of Soleimani, has stated unambiguously that it is time for the US troops to go home. Iraqi government officials have already started working on a memorandum on the legal and procedural formalities to expel American troops, according to him.
It is important to note that at this stage Iraq is a crucial ally of the US in its war against terrorism in West Asia and the Donald Trump administration has nobody to blame but itself for the crisis in West Asia. It is unfortunate that the US has pushed the Iraqi people to a point from where they have been forced to choose between Tehran and Washington. It is quite understandable that Iraqis chose their powerful neighbour, Iran, which assisted in eliminating the IS militias. But, somehow, Donald Trump still doesn't seem to be in a mood to listen. He has threatened Iraq with sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the US troops are forced to pull out of Iraq. This approach not only violates Iraq's sovereignty, it also escalates the situation to a three-cornered crisis involving the US, Iraq and Iran. Donald Trump is mainly responsible for critical situation. His decision to pull the US out of a functioning Iran nuclear deal was the trigger. When the US reimposed sanctions on Iran, it was up to the other signatories of the deal - European countries, Russia and China - to save the agreement. Iran waited for a year before taking alternate measures. But they did nothing, barring issuing occasional statements in favour of the agreement. Europe, which has good ties with both the US and Iran, should wake up at least now. Other signatories to the nuclear deal should use their diplomatic channels to rein in Donald Trump and pacify Iran to prevent an all-out war, which can threaten the security situation in the Persian Gulf and West Asia. As a first step of de-escalation, what Donald Trump could do is to order his soldiers to pack their bags and leave Iraq besides taking measures to ensure stability in the region.



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