Alwaght- On Sunday, Iraq’s parliament held an emergency session and passed a bill calling for foreign forces to withdraw from the country. The bill, aimed essentially at expelling the American forces, comes as the US in a state terrorism action that violated all of the international laws assassinated the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani and the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, along with a number of guards and officers. The Iraqi parliament’s bill has five key points:
1. The Iraqi government rescinds the request for help from the US-led international coalition as ISIS terrorist group is now obliterated.
2. The Iraqi government is under obligation to expel all of the foreign forces and prevent their use of its territory, skies, and waters. No country has the right to launch attacks from the Iraqi soil against another country.
3. The government should file a suit against the US to the UN and Security Council as Washington violated Iraq’s sovereignty and compromised its national security.
4. The government is under obligation to investigate at highest possible levels on the recent airstrike and hand the results to the parliament within 7 days.
5. The bill is binding since its approval.
Additionally, the parliament called for the limitation of arms only in the hands of the government.
Shortly after, President Donald Trump reacted saying that "we have a very extraordinarily expensive airbase that's there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We're not leaving unless they pay us back for it," he told reporters.” He continued that if the US forces are expelled, he will impose unprecedented sanctions on Iraq.
This Trump’s reaction to the Iraqi bill raises a question: What will be the fate of the American presence in Iraq? A set of analyses has been made concerning the Iraq parliament’s decision, some highlighting the legal obstacles and the implications of the bill.
Following the move, some media and analysts claimed that the Iraqi parliament’s bill was illegal and thus it cannot be adopted. They recommend that the government should have sent such a draft to the parliament for passing. But now that there is a vacuum of power, the lawmakers’ move is unconstitutional.
But the fact is that the parliament has not given a draft bill. It passed a law and sent it for the government, though resigned, for adoption. According to article 60 of the constitution, any plan or bill can be passed in two ways. First, it can be given by the PM or the president for a vote. Second, a motion can be initiated by 10 or more members of parliament or a parliamentary commission. The Sunday bill was raised and approved overwhelmingly by all of MPs present, hence it is constitutional and after a final verification by the president will be binding to the PM.
Another challenge raised in the face of the bill is the security pact between Iraq and the US, signed in June 2009 and took effect following its signing by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. The agreement, based on item 4 of article 61 of Iraq’s constitution, has been based on two-thirds of the parliament vote because it was an international and security pact with a third party. It needs the vote of two-thirds of the parliament before it can be revoked. But in Iraq’s constitution, there is no need for the overwhelming majority so that an international pact can be abandoned. According to article 59, the parliamentary sessions with a 50+1 yes vote can grant a bill its legitimacy on the condition of not violating the constitution articles.
At the January 5 meeting, 174 out of 329 members of parliament were present, meaning that the session was official as half of the lawmakers plus one attended.
It needs to be taken into account that the bill obliges the PM to expel the foreign forces, though it contains no timetable. So, this obligation is never binding. Rather, he needs to move in this course.
$1 trillion compensation to the US if pact revoked
One of the significant issues raised around the American forces expulsion bill is the need for Iraq to pay $1 trillion to the US allegedly according to the pact terms if it wants to end the agreement with Washington. Media say that Iraq is under obligation to pay about $1.2 trillion in costs of the American war against the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein if it opts to force the American troops out of its territory.
But this is, many argue, is a media propaganda. Iraq does not need to pay such a huge sum to the US. What is specified under the pact as compensation is $400 million for killing and torture of the Americans under Saddam Hussein rule. The agreement does not set a sum as damage or liberation money. Furthermore, Trump’s claim that Iraq should pay back the money spent on building a huge military base on its soil in case it expels the Americans is illegal. This can simply be blackmailing and a pressure tool to stay there.
What is clear is that the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq runs into no legal obstacles and the expulsion bill is fully constitutional. The only way to stay if Iraq insists on withdrawal is a direct military confrontation with the Iraqi forces, which is unlikely as the Americans are aware of its grave consequences. Therefore, the Americans have no way but getting out of Iraq according to the bill and use of force cannot get them anywhere.
The bill’s implications
1. Certainly, the top implication is the defeat of the US foreign policy in West Asia. After the invasion of Iraq, the American strategists thought that Washington can fully dominate and control the region. Due to its geopolitical position, Iraq was set as the heart of the US’s “Greater Middle East” plan. Moreover, the US military bases in other countries are not anything close in significance to those in Iraq. But now the US faces the Iraqi peoples’ aversion to its military presence in their country.
2. After two months of American-engineered anti-government protests in Iraq mainly funded by Saudi petrodollars, now a large part of the Iraqi community will not be satisfied with less than full expulsion of the American forces. This marks a revolutionary juncture for the new Iraqi generations against the US presence in their country.
3. The bill should be read a new big defeat to the American neoliberalist values that after 2003 were designed to encompass the whole West Asia region.
4. The bill will also undermine the secular political factions in Iraq. This will lead Iraq to a future of governance based on religious values.
5. One more implication of the Iraqi parliament’s motion is the reduction of the American military and security maneuvering power in Iraq and the region. In fact, putting restrictions on the use of Iraqi skies and territories marks a major military blow to Washington.
6. After 2003, the US deemed Iraq as its backyard in the region, always sure that it can have a persistent role in the country’s equations. But the bill tells another story: The Americans should bid farewell to their massive and effective presence there.
7. One more implication is the end of all agreements with Baghdad. On Sunday, the US and its coalition partners said they halted the so-called fight against ISIS and also the training of Iraqi forces. Here ends the US-Iraq cooperation and likely here start the Trump sanctions on Baghdad.