‘Million-Man March’ in Baghdad Demands US Troop Pullout

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A massive demonstration –called for by a prominent Shia cleric– has flooded the streets of the Iraq’s capital Baghdad, with thousands voicing their anger at the US military presence there.

Early on Friday morning, throngs of protesters – men and women, young and old – began amassing at al-Hurriya Square in central Baghdad, near the city’s main university. The anti-America rally, dubbed the “Million-man March,” was called by Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric.

Some were wearing white robes, symbolizing their readiness to die for a religious cause, while others were pictured holding signs that read: “To the families of American soldiers – insist on the withdrawal of [your] sons from our country or prepare their coffins!”

“Get out, get out, occupier!” protesters shouted, while others chanted, “Yes to sovereignty!”

Security forces have cordoned off main roads in the capital, and the city’s Green Zone – home to foreign embassies and government premises – was barricaded with concrete barriers.

There are no reports yet on protesters heading for the US embassy, but a banner warning against crossing the barriers has reportedly been erected outside the mission.

The march comes just weeks after Iraq was shaken by an American drone strike near Baghdad airport, which killed Iran’s top General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy chief of Iraq’s Shia militia, along with other officers.

Aside from triggering a flare-up of military tensions and a retaliatory Iranian strike on US bases in Iraq, the killing sparked outrage among those Iraqis who see the 16-year American troop presence in their country as an unlawful occupation.

Official Baghdad, for its part, blamed Washington for breaching its sovereignty, with the lawmakers of the Islamic republic having passed a non-binding resolution calling on the government to expel all foreign troops from the country.

US media has suggested that the Pentagon was planning the withdrawal of its 5,000 troops from Iraq, but these reports were officially refuted afterwards.

RT

Huge Crowds in Baghdad Call for the Ouster of US Forces from Iraq

Huge crowds of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad on Friday to demand the ouster of US troops from the country.

The demonstration set off from al-Jadriyah and al-Karrada regions adjacent to the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

The demonstrators raised the national flags, chanted slogans rejecting the US presence on Iraqi soil and denounced the criminal actions committed by the US administration by targeting Iraqi military forces and resistance leaders.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces have taken strict measures and cut a number of roads in central Baghdad in coincidence with the start of the massive demonstration, according to an Iraqi security source.

In statements to SANA correspondent in Baghdad, a number of demonstrators confirmed that the US military presence is the cause of all the dilemmas that Iraq is witnessing.

They demanded the immediate implementation of the Iraqi Parliament’s resolution which call for the expulsion of the US and foreign forces from all Iraqi lands.

This demonstration, according to demonstrators, represents a real popular referendum on the rejection of any US military presence in the country.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution bending the government to end the foreign presence in the country after the US crimes against Iraqi military headquarters and high ranking Iraqi and friendly resistance leaders.

Trump’s Gamble in Iraq Backfires: Assassination of Soleimani has Huge Cost for America

Funeral of Iran top General Qasem Soleimani. (Photo: via AJE)

January 24, 2020

By Iqbal Jassat

Despite conflicting official statements by the Trump administration about the reason behind its decision to target Iran’s most celebrated military official, the U.S. is adamant that its assassination of Qasem Soleimani and refusal to leave Iraq is about “protecting Americans”. 

From versions advanced publicly by former CIA chief Pompeo now serving as Trump’s trigger-happy defense secretary, during his TV-road show, the world was told that Qasem Soleimani was killed because he posed an “imminent” threat. 

This “official” narrative was spun to convince Trump’s domestic audience that though the Democrats had ganged up against him, he remained concerned about America’s safety and thus eliminated “bad” persons. 

The targeted assassination of Qasem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi military leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, has raised serious questions about Trump’s real motivation. Notwithstanding the so-called justification being a vague, unproven claim of “imminent” threat of violence against Americans, Trump himself shot it down by saying that it “doesn’t really matter” whether Soleimani and al-Mohandis posed an imminent threat. 

In other words, as Commander-in-chief of America, I, Donald Trump can authorize the killing of anyone, regardless of whether the person singled out for extra-judicial execution is a serving official of any country, and it matters not whether the person poses an imminent threat. 

Strangely, the facts advanced by Iraq’s parliament particularly by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi regarding the reason for Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Baghdad on the fateful day he was assassinated, have either been downplayed or ignored. 

In addition, the Iraqi parliamentary session reveals how the emergence of China and development of strong ties to Baghdad may be shaping America’s new Mideast strategy.

Clearly one cannot ignore what has been described as one of the most overlooked yet relevant drivers behind Trump’s current policy with respect to Iraq: preventing China from expanding its foothold in the Middle East. 

Indeed, some commentators have argued that the timing of Soleimani’s assassination was directly related to his diplomatic role in Iraq and his push to help Iraq secure its oil independence.

Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi’s insistence that America’s pressure on the Iraqi government arises from China’s growing ties especially in the oil sector, hasn’t received adequate media attention. While this may be due to much of the U.S. pressure being exerted on the caretaker government covertly and behind closed doors. 

Now that the Iraqi Prime Minister has lifted the lid on Trump’s bullying tactics, mainstream media has no reason to shy away from it. The evidence strongly suggests that America under Trump cannot countenance China’s presence nor Iran’s substantial influence in Iraq. 

The flip side is that both China and Iran are eager to free Iraq by ridding it of U.S. troops. Both have different means to do so which has the potential to saddle Trump with the prospect of exiting his army in ignominy. 

The Trump administration is thus faced with a huge dilemma: how to depart gracefully yet retain a presence? 

It knows that parliamentary approval to remove American forces along with all foreign troops means the end of the road. Challenging it as Pompeo is doing, is unsustainable and to defy Iraq is in effect defying international conventions. 

The martyrdom of Qasem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis and a number of their colleagues on Iraqi soil, is the straw that proverbially broke the camel’s back. 

Far from attaining any of Trump’s stated objectives, the targeted killings have had results entirely unfavorable to his goals. 

Iran is firmly united behind its revolutionary leadership, while Trump is facing an impeachment trial in a country deeply divided. The notion of a superpower is in tatters while Iran’s regional status has grown immensely. 

China’s entry will have further ramifications for America. This as one commentator explained: “China has the means and the ability to dramatically undermine not only the U.S.’ control over Iraq’s oil sector but the entire petrodollar system on which the U.S.’ status as both a financial and military superpower directly depends”. 

– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com

Hezbollah Hails the Iraqi Million Man March: An Absolute Rejection of the US Occupation of Iraq

Translated by Staff

Hezbollah issued the following statement:

“The Iraqi people today reiterated their absolute rejection of the American occupation of their country.”

The statement added that the millions of crowds that filled the streets and squares of Baghdad made clear that the free and dignified Iraqi people would never be satisfied with the occupation remaining on their soil.

As Hezbollah hails the blessed and faithful crowds that emphasized unity among the Iraqi people and their one line against the US occupation and domination, it finds that the dear and brave stances witnessed in the Iraqi capital are an honest expression of the Arab and Islamic nation, which is fed up with the US occupation and domination of its resources and wealth. It also hopes that they form a starting point for massive movements and protests across the Arab and Muslim countries, and lead our country to be entirely liberated from the occupation and its tools.

Hezbollah hails the great Iraqi people, with all its factions, parties, and diverse political trends, who will be faithful to this great march, its principles, goals, and slogans.

“The Iraqi people will work hard to practically turn these goals into a starting point for a free, unified, honorable and independent Iraq that is free from foreign occupation forces and their influence,” the statement concluded.

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An Army for Hire: Trump Wants to Make Money by Renting Out American Soldiers

Philip Giraldi

January 23, 2020

To stay that there has been some strange stuff coming out of the White House lately would be an understatement. If President Donald Trump knew a bit more about history, he would understand that countries that rent out their national armies to serve as mercenaries usually wind up holding the short end of the stick. There is the example of Pyrrhus of Epirus in the third century B.C., for whom the expression “Pyrrhic victory” was coined, and, more recently there was the British employment of 30,000 Hessian and other German soldiers in the American revolution. Hessian regiments were rented out by their prince to the King of England to pay the expenses of his government. The use of mercenaries by the British was cited by the colonists as one of their principal grievances and the Hessians became the losers in one of the few early colonial victories at Trenton.

There is currently considerable evidence surfacing suggesting that Trump views the United States military as some kind of mercenary force, a cash and carry security option for those who can come up with the dough. In a recent interview that Trump gave to Laura Ingraham of Fox News, the president boasted that “We have a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia. I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. You want more troops? I’m going to send them to you, but you’ve got to pay us. They’re paying us. They’ve already deposited $1 billion in the bank.”

Some readers might just suspect that they’ve heard language like that before, but they are most likely recalling The Godfather part 1 movie where Marlon Brando playing a young Vito Corleone was running a protection racket for small businesses and shopkeepers in New York’s Little Italy. Corleone first had to kill the Black Hand extortionist Don Fanucci in order to take over his racket, something that has a certain resonance with what is going on currently in Iraq.

Trump has long complained that America’s allies are not paying enough to compensate the United States for the protection that it provides all over the world. He has pressured allies to pay for the U.S. military presence, even demanding that the Iraqis and South Koreans should reimburse the construction costs of airfields and other defense installations that have been used as bases by the American army and air force. Indeed, not surprisingly, the only country that gets away with having a U.S. base without any Trumpean demand for compensation is Israel, which actually gets the base plus more than $3.8 billion a year in “aid.”

In the case of the Saudis, the government in Riyadh has ponied up the money to pay for the Trump relocation of 3,000 American soldiers. The move is intended to help protect the Kingdom from possible attack by Iran or its proxies, a particular concern given the devastating attack staged by an unidentified someone on the major Saudi oil refinery on September 14th. One might recall, however, that the “unholy” presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia prior to 9/11 was a major grievance successfully exploited by al-Qaeda, resulting in 15 of the 19 presumed airline hijacking terrorists being Saudis.

Trump’s logic on the issue is that of an accountant who works for a protection racket. He looks to make a profit, without regard for the collateral costs that cannot be entered in double entry book keeping. The reality is that sending soldiers to places where they should not necessarily be largely because some foreign country can foot the bill loses sight of the fact that some of those people being ordered abroad will die. That is unacceptable and it makes the American Army little better than a mercenary force, hardly a “force for good” as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would have it.

Kelley Vlahos of The American Conservative reports how the U.S. military in Saudi Arabia will man “…assets designed to help the Saudi military guard against Iranian attacks, including four Patriot batteries, a terminal high-altitude area defense system, or THAAD air defense system, and two squadrons of fighter jets. She also observes the “clincher” in the deal, which is that “…one important aspect of the deployment is the presence of American forces in more locations across the kingdom. They believe Iran has demonstrated its reluctance to target American personnel, either directly or indirectly, in part because Trump has made clear that would trigger a military response.”

In other words, as Vlahos observes, U.S. military personnel would be serving as human shields for the Saudis, to deter possible Iranian attacks. That sounds like a very bad bit of thinking on the part of whichever lunkhead in Washington came up with the scheme.

If the Saudi case were not bad enough, the Washington Post has also recently published an article extracted from a new book entitled A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, which includes detailed accounts of meetings between the president and his senior staff.

The book is admittedly designed as a hit piece on Trump and it tends to beatify the military and its senior officers while also uncritically accepting America’s global role, but some of the invective hurled at the generals and admirals by Trump is, quite frankly, disgusting. One particular meeting held at the Pentagon’s top security Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting room called “The Tank” is reported in detail, clearly from the notes and recollections of participants or possibly even from a recording. It took place six months into the Trump administration on July 20, 2017, and included Vice President Mike Pence, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph F. Dunford, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the leaders of the military branches. Trump’s personal “strategist” Steve Bannon was also in attendance. Per the article, Mattis and other cabinet members present had arranged the meeting because they had become alarmed by Trump’s lack of knowledge of the key international alliances forged by Washington following after World War II. Trump had been routinely dismissing America’s allies as worthless.

Mattis, Cohn, and Tillerson used PowerPoint presentations for ninety minutes in the belief that it would keep Trump from getting bored. The graphics showed where U.S. troops were stationed and explained the security arrangements that had led to America’s global defense and national security posture.

Trump occasionally spoke up when he heard a word he didn’t like, describing American overseas bases as “crazy” and “stupid.” His first complaint was over his perception that foreigners should pay for U.S. protection. Regarding South Korea he fumed, “We should charge them rent. We should make them pay for our soldiers. We should make money off of everything.”

Trump also called NATO useless, not because of their lack of a raison d’etre, but instead based on what they owed. “They’re in arrears,” he shouted and gesticulated, as if they were late on their rent payments, before directing his ire against the generals. “We are owed money you haven’t been collecting! You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own business.”

Trump then got specific, naming Iran, saying of the nuclear pact with that country, which he had not yet withdrawn from, “They’re cheating. They’re building. We’re getting out of it. I keep telling you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it.” And Afghanistan? A “loser war. You’re all losers. You don’t know how to win anymore.”

Trump then went into a rage as he demanded oil to pay for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. “We spent $7 trillion; they’re ripping us off. Where is the fucking oil? I want to win. We don’t win any wars anymore…We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore.” Glaring around the room he concluded “I wouldn’t go to war with you people. You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

The only one in the room who responded to Trump’s tirade was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who objected “No, that’s just wrong Mr. President, you’re totally wrong. None of that is true. The men and women who put on a uniform don’t do it to become soldiers of fortune. That’s not why they put on a uniform and go out and die… They do it to protect our freedom.”

After the meeting ended and the participants were departing, Tillerson famously shook his head and opined “He’s a fucking moron.”

In a follow-up meeting in December, Trump called together his generals and other senior officials in the Situation Room, the secure meeting room on the ground floor of the West Wing. The subject was how to come up with a new policy for Afghanistan. Trump started the discussion by saying “All these countries need to start paying us for the troops we are sending to their countries. We need to be making a profit. We could turn a profit on this. We need to get our money back.”

Tillerson was again the only one to respond: “I’ve never put on a uniform, but I know this. Every person who has put on a uniform, the people in this room, they don’t do it to make a buck. They did it for their country, to protect us. I want everyone to be clear about how much we as a country value their service.” Trump was angered by the rebuke and three months later Tillerson was fired. Mattis subsequently resigned.

Even if one discounts, as many do, the rationalizations made by senior military officers and diplomats for staying the course in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where they admittedly have screwed the pooch, there is something deplorable in a bullying president who sees everything in transactional terms, buying and selling. Sending American soldiers into potential death traps like Saudi Arabia as part of a non-existent strategy to make money is beyond criminal behavior. People on both sides die when the decision making coming out of the White House is bad, and there has been no president either more ignorant or worse in that respect than Donald J. Trump.

HOW ARE IRAN AND THE “AXIS OF THE RESISTANCE” AFFECTED BY THE US ASSASSINATION OF SOLEIMANI?

 

The US President Donald Trump assassinated the commander of the “Axis of the Resistance”, the (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) IRGC – Quds Brigade Major General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad airport with little consideration of the consequences of this targeted killing. It is not to be excluded that the US administration considered the assassination would reflect positively on its Middle Eastern policy. Or perhaps the US officials believed the killing of Sardar Soleimani would weaken the “Axis of the Resistance”: once deprived of their leader, Iran’s partners’ capabilities in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen would be reduced. Is this assessment accurate?

A high-ranking source within this “Axis of the Resistance” said “Sardar Soleimani was the direct and fast track link between the partners of Iran and the Leader of the Revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei. However, the command on the ground belonged to the national leaders in every single separate country. These leaders have their leadership and practices, but common strategic objectives to fight against the US hegemony, stand up to the oppressors and to resist illegitimate foreign intervention in their affairs. These objectives have been in place for many years and will remain, with or without Sardar Soleimani”.

“In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah leads Lebanon and is the one with a direct link to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He supports Gaza, Syria, Iraq and Yemen and has a heavy involvement in these fronts. However, he leads a large number of advisors and officers in charge of running all military, social and relationship affairs domestically and regionally. Many Iranian IRGC officers are also present on many of these fronts to support the needs of the “Axis of the Resistance” members in logistics, training and finance,” said the source.

In Syria, IRGC officers coordinate with Russia, the Syrian Army, the Syrian political leadership and all Iran’s allies fighting for the liberation of the country and for the defeat of the jihadists who flocked to Syria from all continents via Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. These officers have worked side by side with Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and other nationals who are part of the “Axis of the Resistance”. They have offered the Syrian government the needed support to defeat the “Islamic State” (ISIS/IS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda and other jihadists or those of similar ideologies in most of the country – with the exception of north-east Syria, which is under US occupation forces. These IRGC officers have their objectives and the means to achieve a target already agreed and in place for years. The absence of Sardar Soleimani will hardly affect these forces and their plans.

Front left: President Rouhani, Sayyed Khamenei, IRGC-Quds Chief Ismail Qaani

In Iraq, over 100 Iranian IRGC officers have been operating in the country at the official request of the Iraqi government, to defeat ISIS. They served jointly with the Iraqi forces and were involved in supplying the country with weapons, intelligence and training after the fall of a third of Iraq into the hands of ISIS in mid-2014. It was striking and shocking to see the Iraqi Army, armed and trained by US forces for over ten years, abandoning its positions and fleeing the northern Iraqi cities. Iranian support with its robust ideology (with one of its allies, motivating them to fight ISIS) was efficient in Syria; thus, it was necessary to transmit this to the Iraqis so they could stand, fight, and defeat ISIS.

The Lebanese Hezbollah is present in Syria and Yemen, and also in Iraq. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked Sayyed Nasrallah to provide his country with officers to stand against ISIS. Dozens of Hezbollah officers operate in Iraq and will be ready to support the Iraqis if the US forces refuse to leave the country. They will abide by and enforce the decision of the Parliament that the US must leave by end January 2021. Hezbollah’s long warfare experience has resulted in painful experiences with the US forces in Lebanon and Iraq throughout several decades and has not been forgotten.

Sayyed Nasrallah, in his latest speech, revealed the presence in mid-2014 of Hezbollah officials in Kurdistan to support the Iraqi Kurds against ISIS. This was when the same Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani announced that it was due to Iran that the Kurds received weapons to defend themselves when the US refused to help Iraq for many months after ISIS expanded its control in northern Iraq.

The Hezbollah leaders did not disclose the continuous visits of Kurdish representatives to Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials. In fact, Iraqi Sunni and Shia officials, ministers and political leaders regularly visit Lebanon to meet Hezbollah officials and its leader. Hezbollah, like Iran, plays an essential role in easing the dialogue between Iraqis when these find it difficult to overcome their differences together.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei and IRGC General Ismail Qaani during the Iraq-Iran war

The reason why Sayyed Nasrallah revealed the presence of his officers in Kurdistan when meeting Masoud Barzani is a clear message to the world that the “Axis of the Resistance” doesn’t depend on one single person. Indeed, Sayyed Nasrallah is showing the unity which reigns among this front, with or without Sardar Soleimani. Barzani is part of Iraq, and Kurdistan expressed its readiness to abide by the decision of the Iraqi Parliament to seek the US forces’ departure from the country because the Kurds are not detached from the central government but part of it.

Prior to his assassination, Sardar Soleimani prepared the ground to be followed (if killed on the battlefield, for example) and asked Iranian officials to nominate General Ismail Qaani as his replacement. The Leader of the revolution Sayyed Ali Khamenei ordered Soleimani’s wish to be fulfilled and to keep the plans and objectives already in place as they were. Sayyed Khamenei, according to the source, ordered an “increase in support for the Palestinians and, in particular, to all allies where US forces are present.”

Sardar Soleimani was looking for his death by his enemies and got what he wished for. He was aware that the “Axis of the Resistance” is highly aware of its objectives. Those among the “Axis of the Resistance” who have a robust internal front are well-established and on track. The problem was mainly in Iraq. But it seems the actions of the US have managed to bring Iraqi factions together- by assassinating the two commanders. Sardar Soleimani could have never expected a rapid achievement of this kind. Anti-US Iraqis are preparing this coming Friday to express their rejection of the US forces present in their country.

Sayyed Ali Khamenei, in his Friday prayers last week, the first for eight years, set up a road map for the “Axis of the Resistance”: push the US forces out of the Middle East and support Palestine.

Iran general Ismail Qaani with Hamas Leader Ismail Haniya and various Palestinian leaders in Tehran.

All Palestinian groups, including Hamas, were present at Sardar Soleimani’s funeral in Iran and met with General Qaani who promised, “not only to continue support but to increase it according to Sayyed Khamenei’s request,” said the source. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Leader, said from Tehran: “Soleimani is the martyr of Jerusalem”.

Many Iraqi commanders were present at the meeting with General Qaani. Most of these have a long record of hostility towards US forces in Iraq during the occupation period (2003-2011). Their commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes, was assassinated with Sardar Soleimani and they are seeking revenge. Those leaders have enough motivation to attack the US forces, who have violated the Iraq-US training, cultural and armament agreement. At no time was the US administration given a license to kill in Iraq by the government of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Parliament has spoken: and the assassination of Sardar Soleimani has indeed fallen within the ultimate objectives of the “Axis of the Resistance”. The Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister has officially informed all members of the Coalition Forces in Iraq that “their presence, including that of NATO, is now no longer required in Iraq”. They have one year to leave. But that absolutely does not exclude the Iraqi need to avenge their commanders.

Palestine constitutes the second objective, as quoted by Sayyed Khamenei. We cannot exclude a considerable boost of support for the Palestinians, much more than the actually existing one. Iran is determined to support the Sunni Palestinians in their objective to have a state of their own in Palestine. The man – Soleimani – is gone and is replaceable like any other man: but the level of commitment to goals has increased. It is hard to imagine the “Axis of the Resistance” remaining idle without engaging themselves somehow in the US Presidential campaign. So, the remainder of 2020 is expected to be hot.


By Elijah J. Magnier
Source: Elijah J. Magnier

Over 4 Million People Join March Against US Presence in Iraq. 24 January 2020

By Telesur

Global Research, January 25, 2020

At least four million people Thursday demanded the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq with a march in Baghdad, which was convened by cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr three weeks after the murder of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani..

At the country’s capital, streets were filled with an endless column of people who paraded to express their repudiation of the U.S. military presence.

Banners showed slogans such as “No, No to the U.S. and Yes to Iraqi sovereignty,” “The willingness of free nations is stronger than the U.S. aggression,” and “Global terrorism is made in the U.S.”

While some protesters burned images of Donald Trump, others marched raising photos of the U.S. president’s face crossed out with a red “X”.

“We have not obtained anything from the U.S. except problems, wars, and sieges,” Ziyad Qasim Abdullah, a 39-year-old chauffeur, said.

The U.S. has “created sectarian conflicts in Iraq and divided people to plunder the wealth of our country,” he added and explained that he wants to “expel the occupation forces” from his country.​​​​​​​

Trump and Esper: No Evidence, Just a “Sneaky Feeling”. Time for the Invaders to Go Home

Video

Initially, the U.S. government justified the presence of its troops in Iraq by arguing the fight against the Islamic State, which managed to control large areas of Iraqi territory in 2014.

Since the defeat of this radical group in 2017, however, those troops have not been removed from this country.

As a result of the events unleashed by Jan. 3 bombings, in which Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani was killed, the Iraqi parliament approved a procedure for the departure of foreign troops​​​​​​​.

“If the U.S. meets these demands, then it is not an aggressor country,” Al-Sadr said and added that if the U.S. will become a “hostile country” if it violates the conditions specified for its departure.

The highest Shiite religious authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, also reaffirmed today “the need to respect the sovereignty of Iraq, the independence of its political decision, and its territorial unity.”

For his part, Iraq’s President Barham Salih posted a photo of Friday’s march on social media and wrote that Iraqis deserved a “fully sovereign state that serves its people.”

Initially, the U.S. government justified the presence of its troops in Iraq by arguing the fight against the Islamic State, which managed to control large areas of Iraqi territory in 2014.

Since the defeat of this radical group in 2017, however, those troops have not been removed from this country.

As a result of the events unleashed by Jan. 3 bombings, in which Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani was killed, the Iraqi parliament approved a procedure for the departure of foreign troops​​​​​​​.

“If the U.S. meets these demands, then it is not an aggressor country,” Al-Sadr said and added that if the U.S. will become a “hostile country” if it violates the conditions specified for its departure.

The highest Shiite religious authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, also reaffirmed today “the need to respect the sovereignty of Iraq, the independence of its political decision, and its territorial unity.”

For his part, Iraq’s President Barham Salih posted a photo of Friday’s march on social media and wrote that Iraqis deserved a “fully sovereign state that serves its people.”The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Telesur, Global Research, 2020

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مليونية بغداد: أميركا… برّا برّا

يتجدّد الحديث دورياً، ومع كلّ حدث مفصلي، عن افتقاد أميركا، لاسيما في ظلّ إدارتها الحالية، لاستراتيجية فعلية، أو على أقلّ تقدير، لإطار واضح لسياستها الخارجية. سِمةُ هذه الإدارة، كما ستُذكر في وقت ما، أنها استطاعت أن تكشف للعالم عن الوجه الحقيقي لنظامٍ لا تنفكّ هيمنته تتقلّص في مرحلة تاريخية لا يزال من المبكر توصيفها. معظم القراءات الواردة في هذا السياق تجمع على «حتمية» انحسار النفوذ الأميركي في العالم.

جو بايدن، المرشّح الأمثل للحزب الديموقراطي، يعتقد جازماً بأن النكسة بدأت منذ غادر هو ورئيسه باراك أوباما البيت الأبيض. كتب بايدن مانيفستو السياسة الخارجية التي سيتّبعها في ما لو انتُخب رئيساً. بايدن هذا، الذي لم يجد الديموقراطيون أفضل منه ليمثّل مؤسسات الحزب، حمّل ترامب مسؤولية «إهدار نفوذنا» في العالم. لكنه هو أيضاً يريد إنهاء الحروب التي لا تنتهي. أليس ذلك ما يقوله ترامب منذ ثلاث سنوات؟ وقبله أوباما؟ «إذا أصبحتُ رئيساً»، ستكون مهمة إعادة «الغالبية العظمى» من الجنود الأميركيين الموجودين في أفغانستان والمنطقة إلى الوطن من أولى المهمات التي «سأضطلع بها». ستصبح المهمّة في عهد بايدن «محدّدة بدقة»: هزيمة «القاعدة» و«داعش». لكن التركيز سيبقى، أولاً وأخيراً، منصبّاً على «مكافحة الإرهاب في جميع أنحاء العالم»، بدلاً من خوض صراعات «تستنزف قدرتنا على القيادة في قضايا أخرى تتطلّب اهتمامنا».

صلب الموضوع: لتكون صوتاً ذا مصداقية، لا يمكنك التخلّي عن صفقات سبقَ لك أن تفاوضت عليها. على رغم أن لا «أوهامَ» تنتاب بايدن في شأن «النظام الإيراني الذي شارك في سلوك مزعزع للاستقرار في جميع أنحاء الشرق الأوسط»، لكن هناك طريقة ذكية لمواجهة «التهديد» الذي تمثّله إيران على مصالحنا. اغتيال قائد «قوة القدس» الإيرانية، قاسم سليماني، ليس واحداً من أدوات المواجهة تلك، كونه أثار احتمال اندلاع دورة تصعيد جديدة في المنطقة، ما دفع طهران إلى التخلّي عن التزاماتها النووية بموجب الاتفاق. أما إذا عادت إلى قواعد الامتثال الصارمة، «فسوف أنضمّ إلى الاتفاق وأستخدم الدبلوماسية مع حلفائنا لتعزيزه وتوسيع نطاقه».

تحديد الأولويات

بُعيد تولّيه منصب الرئاسة، جَمع دوايت أيزنهاور كبار مستشاريه في مقصورة التشمّس الاصطناعي في البيت الأبيض لمناقشة السياسة الأميركية تجاه الاتحاد السوفياتي. وزير الخارجية المتشدِّد، جون فوستر دالاس، الذي كان ناقداً صريحاً لسياسة الاحتواء التي اتبعها هاري ترومان، دعا إلى سياسة أكثر تشدّداً تسعى بمقتضاها الولايات المتحدة إلى «دحر» النفوذ السوفياتي عبر أوروبا وآسيا. بدلاً من حلّ هذا النقاش، قرّر أيزنهاور الاستعانة بخبراء حكوميين لتطوير ثلاث استراتيجيات وطنية. جورج كينان، الذي صاغ مبادئ سياسة «الاحتواء» وعُرف لاحقاً بـ«مهندس» الحرب الباردة، عاد للدفاع عن سياسته. بعد شهرين، جلس الرئيس الأميركي، وعلى مدى يوم كامل، للاستماع إلى المقترحات، وأيّد أخيراً سياسات ترومان، في ما بات يُعرف باسم «Project Solarium» الذي حدّد معالم السياسة الخارجية للولايات المتحدة للسنوات الـ35 التي تلَت (لغاية انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي)، كما ساعد في «تجنُّب» اشتباك عسكري مباشر بين واشنطن وموسكو.

بايدن: التركيز سيبقى منصبّاً على «مكافحة الإرهاب في جميع أنحاء العالم»

ذكّر بمقتطفات من تلك الحقبة، بريت ماكغورك، المبعوث الأميركي السابق لـ«التحالف الدولي»، في مقالة طويلة في «فورين أفيرز». من وجهة نظر ماكغورك، ما فعله دونالد ترامب هو أنه وضع سياسة خارجية غير متسقة، وذات أهداف لا يمكن التوفيق بينها. هكذا، يجري تحديد أهداف الحدّ الأقصى من دون التفكير في ما هو مطلوب لتحقيقها. وليس ثمة شيء معبّر عن عدم التماسك هذا أكثر من السياسة الأميركية تجاه إيران. في 18 كانون الثاني/ ديسمبر 2017، وقّع ترامب وثيقة استراتيجية الأمن القومي الأميركي، تلتها بعد شهر واحد استراتيجية الدفاع الوطني. تحدِّد هذه الوثائق أولويات المصالح الأميركية، وتوجّه الإدارات والوكالات الأميركية إلى أن تحذو حذوها. هي أكدت ضرورة «منافسة القوى العظمى» الجديدة (روسيا والصين)، واعتبار آسيا المنطقة ذات الأولوية بالنسبة إلى الولايات المتحدة، أي إعادة توازن الأولويات الأميركية بعد عقدين من الالتزام المفرط تجاه الشرق الأوسط.

هذا في السياقات المعلنة. لكن، منذ انسحابه من الاتفاق النووي، سعى ترامب إلى تحقيق أيّ اختراق يمثل له إنجازاً يمكن تسويقه داخلياً. قال إن الهدف هو ضمان عدم قدرة إيران على إنتاج سلاح نووي، ثم قال مستشاره للأمن القومي إن الهدف كان تغيير النظام. ثم جاء وزير الخارجية ليذيع 12 مطلباً، من بينها: أن تتخلّى إيران عن برنامجيها النووي والصاروخي، وأن تنهي دعمها لمجموعاتها، وأن تسحب ميليشياتها مِن العراق وسوريا. يعتقد عدد قليل من الخبراء، وفق ماكغورك، أن تلك الشروط لا تُنفّذ في غياب استراتيجية واضحة لتغيير النظام. لا أهداف نهائية حين يتعلّق الأمر بالسياسة تجاه إيران. الرهان على أن سياسة «الضغوط القصوى» ستُجبر إيران إمّا على العودة إلى طاولة المفاوضات أو الانهيار كلياً، فشل. في الوقت ذاته، لم تنظر الإدارة جدّياً في فرضية مخالفة، ما «اضطرها» للانتقال إلى تصعيد من نوع آخر: اغتيال سليماني. ردّت طهران بتوحيد قبضتها داخلياً. وعلى الرغم من أنها قد لا تسعى إلى استفزاز واشنطن في مواجهة مباشرة، وفق ماكغورك، إلا أنها ستواصل على الأرجح هجمات ضدّ المصالح الأميركية يمكن التملّص منها، بالتوازي مع تكثيف ضغوطها لإخراج قوات الاحتلال الأميركي من العراق.
خلاصة ماكغورك: يمكن إدارة ترامب أن تستجيب لهذه الظروف الجديدة بإعلانها أن الشرق الأوسط هو الأولوية الأولى، وأن تتخذ مبادرات لتعزيز موقعها العسكري والدبلوماسي في العراق.

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