• Baghdad

  • Monday, February 5, 2024 at 7:02:58 AM
    Last Update : Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:02 PM

Leader of Iraq's PMF To AWP: Govt. Must Take Firm Stance to Expel U.S. Troops

(AWP) - An Iraqi Popular Mobilization Front official stated that the United States attacks on sites belonging to the PMF on Friday constitute an attack on Iraq and its sovereignty, stressing that the government should take “immediate and decisive” measures to expel U.S. forces, whose presence he said poses a danger to the country.

“This is a threat posed not only to the PMF, but is also a threat to the Iraqi state, Iraq’s sovereignty, Iraq’s government and the people of Iraq. The decision must be taken by the state and government,” said Abu Fahd al-Haythami, Director of the PMF’s Technical Advisory Department, in an interview with the Arab World Press (AWP).

Regarding the steps the PMF intends to take at the political level, Haythami said there will be “intense pressure on the government and the state as well as any party concerned with this matter within the state to take a decisive position on the withdrawal of Americans.”

He added, “The Americans are now waiting for the Iraqi state to give its stance on this issue. They claim the state will not adopt a clear stance, but we say the ball is now in the court of the Iraqi state and government and it should take immediate and firm action to get the U.S. forces out of Iraq.”

The U.S. launched strikes on Friday evening against several sites in Iraq and Syria which President Joe Biden said were being used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliated armed factions to launch attacks against U.S. forces.

Iraqi government spokesman Bassem al-Awadi said in a statement that 16 people, including civilians, were killed and 25 others wounded in the attacks, and denied any prior coordination with Iraqi officials regarding the strikes.

“U.S. claims of [prior] coordination with us are false and meant only to mislead international public opinion and evade legal responsibility,” he stressed.
Haythami emphasized that the solution lies with U.S. forces pulling out of Iraq, stating that the ball is now in the court of the Iraqi government.

He said, “There is no clear agreement. There is a general timeframe. The agreement states that the matter relies on a request by the Iraqi government. When the Iraqi government requests that the Americans leave, they will leave. The Americans also claim this and have their justification.”

The PMF official said if the government takes a firm stance, there will be no justification for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.

Haythami explained, “There are armed factions and groups that do not tolerate aggression on Iraq, or against the region, Gaza or any other places. Therefore, reactions cannot be controlled. We expect these reactions and so emphasize to whoever wants to alleviate the situation that it all hinges on the U.S. exiting Iraq. If the Americans leave Iraq, the situation will calm down.”

The PMF leading member indicated that the main issue is Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip which has been ongoing since October 7, killing more than 27,000 people and injuring 66,000 so far.

Haythami continued, “There are angry people in Iraq, Yemen and other areas who cannot stand watching what is happening to Gaza from afar and are starting to react. The Americans are pressing the government to weaken and calm these reactions. The key issue is the issue of Israel.”

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council (NSC), John Kirby, said the Iraqi government was notified before the U.S. airstrikes.

However, the Iraqi government’s spokesman considered the presence of the international coalition in the country to be “a cause for threatening security and stability in Iraq and a justification for involving Iraq in regional and international conflicts.”

He warned that the U.S. attacks would push security in Iraq and the region “to the brink” and undermine efforts to establish aspired stability.

The U.S. strikes came in retaliation for a drone attack on U.S. forces in a base in northern Jordan on January 28, that killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded dozens of others.

Biden described the attack as a direct assault on American citizens, accusing Iran-backed armed groups of committing the attack.