Iraq has spent the better share of the last 16 years under US military occupation.
Despite this, time and again US-Iraqi relations have come to be defined by US hostility toward neighboring Iran, and Iraq’s desire to not get mixed up in that.
So while Iraq’s parliament was already bristling under Pentagon talk of staying in Iraq, and Trump saying that the US was staying in Iraq to “keep an eye on Iran,” the recent escalation of US rhetoric about a war against Iran has sparked action within parliament.
On Saturday, Iraq will be voting on a bill that would aim to expel all foreign troops from Iraqi soil, and singles out US troops in particular as needing to leave. The bill is endorsed by Iraq’s top two Shi’ite blocs, and is expected to pass fairly easily.
What happens then is the real question.
Iraq’s parliament is already being spun as “pro-Iran factions,” and it’s been a long time since US officials, Pentagon or otherwise, gave any indication that they thought staying in Iraq was up to the Iraqi government.
So while the Iraqi Prime Minister is warning the US that they can’t use Iraq to launch a war on Iran, the US is browbeating Iraq over its government-aligned Shi’ite militias, and doing everything they can to try to portray that Shi’ite-dominated Iraqi government as effectively in league with the Iranians, and subsequently a threat to US interests.
No matter what happens, it seems certain US-Iraqi ties will suffer for it.