Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched on January 24 in the capital, Baghdad, in a “million-strong” protest against U.S. military presence in the country.
The protests, who took at the streets upon calls from prominent Shia movements, gathered in the Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, where anti-government demonstrations have been ongoing for months now.
“No, No America,” the protestors, some of who showed up wearing shrouds, chanted “Get out of our land before we make you leave.”
The protestors called for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Earlier this month, the country’s parliament approved a bill to put the withdrawal process on motion with the country’s Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi support.
The decision was taken in the wake of a U.S. drone strike on Baghdad that killed Iran’s Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Soleimani and Deputy-Commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abd al-Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The U.S. rejected the official Iraqi decision, vowing to keep troops in the oil-rich country. President Donald Trump even went as far as threatening Baghdad with sanctions and demanding payment for U.S. military installations in the country.
Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the main figures which called for the ongoing protest in Baghdad, had warned the U.S. that it will be dealt with as an “occupier” if it doesn’t respect the Iraqi decision and withdraw its troops from the country.
“U.S. President Donald Trump should not be superior or arrogance in his decisions and speeches with Iraq, or we will reciprocate him,” al-Sadr said on January 24.
The Iraqi leader warned that Baghdad may take several steps to force U.S. out of the country, including shutting down military bases and closing the airspace.
The large protest in the Iraqi capital is a loud message to Washington that the Iraqis are not happy with the U.S. military presence in their country. However, it remains highly unlike that it would affect the posture of Trump’s administration. The U.S. President appears to be very serious in his recent threats against Iraq.
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