Kataib Hezbollah Renews Call for US To Withdraw from Iraq

By Dave DeCamp – Antiwar.com

On Tuesday, the Iraqi Shia militia Kataib Hezbollah renewed calls for the US to leave Iraq as it appears there has been no progress on a withdrawal in negotiations between Baghdad and Washington.

Abu Ali al-Askari, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, said the group “did not perceive the American enemy’s seriousness in withdrawing the troops and dismantling its spy bases in Iraq.”

Al-Askari added that Kataib Hezbollah hasn’t “seen the necessary seriousness from the Iraqi government to remove them.”

Kataib Hezbollah and other Shia militias suspended attacks on US forces in February under pressure from the Iraqi government and Iran following the drone attack on Tower 22 in Jordan that killed three US Army Reserve soldiers. US bases in Iraq and Syria were attacked in April, but there were no casualties, and there have been no attacks since then.

US bases came under hundreds of attacks between mid-October and early February that started in response to US support for the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. In response, the US bombed Kataib Hezbollah and other militias that are members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group that’s part of Iraq’s security forces.

The US airstrikes on Iraq, which were not coordinated with Baghdad, prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani to call for the US-led foreign coalition in Iraq to withdraw. The US and Iraq began talks on the future of the presence, but after al-Sudani recently visited Washington, there was no sign that a withdrawal would happen anytime soon. As long as the US refuses to leave Iraq, where it has 2,500 troops, there’s always a chance of attacks restarting.

The US has been under pressure to leave Iraq since January 2020, when Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US forces due to the US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The US has been able to stay because of the enormous economic leverage it has over Iraq.

Since the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s foreign reserves have been held by the US Federal Reserve, giving Washington control over Baghdad’s dollar supply and the ability to devalue the Iraqi dinar. The US also keeps tight control over Iraq’s ability to pay its neighbor Iran for much-needed electricity.

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