Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 27th, 2020

Iraq Vote, Hezbollah Threat Leveled at US Troops in Mideast

Iraq Vote, Hezbollah Threat Leveled at US Troops in Mideast

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military presence in the Middle East was thrown into jeopardy Sunday, as Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from their country while the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said the U.S. military across the region “will pay the price” for killing a top Iranian general.
Hassan Nasrallah said that U.S. bases, warships and soldiers in the Middle East were all fair targets after the U.S. drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the architect of many of Iran’s regional military campaigns in recent years.
The two developments were new signs of the backlash from Friday’s killing of Soleimani and a number of top Iraqi officials at the Baghdad airport, and further heightened tensions in a region already on high alert and bracing for an Iranian retaliation.
Later Sunday, at least three explosions shook the Iraqi capital and sirens sounded across the Tigris River. The blasts appeared to be mortars or rockets that landed inside the heavily fortified Green Zone where the U.S. and other embassies are based, as well as the seat of Iraq’s government. There was no immediate word on casualties. It was the second such attack in two days.
“The suicide attackers who forced the Americans to leave from our region in the past are still here and their numbers have increased,” said Nasrallah. It was not clear which suicide bombings Nasrallah was referring to. But a 1983 attack on a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killed 241 U.S. servicemen and led President Ronald Reagan to withdraw all American forces from the country.
“When American troops return in coffins, when they come vertically and return horizontally to the United States of America, then Trump and his administration will know that they lost the region and will lose the elections,” Nasrallah said. He added that U.S. civilians in the region should not be targeted, because attacking them would play into President Donald Trump’s hands.
Nasrallah spoke from an undisclosed location, and his speech was played on large screens for thousands of Shiite followers in southern Beirut, interrupted by chants of “Death to America!” The comments were Nasrallah’s first since Soleimani’s killing.
The stark warning by Nasrallah came as Iraq’s parliament voted in favor of a nonbinding resolution calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops from their country in a move that that could pave the way for a resurgence of the Islamic State group.
“The Iranian government is trying to basically take over Iraq’s political system. Iran is bribing Iraqi politicians. To the Iraqi people, do not allow your politicians to turn Iraq into a proxy of Iran,” the South Carolina Republican said.
The majority of about 180 legislators present in Parliament voted in favor of the troop-removal resolution. It was backed by most Shiite members of Parliament, who hold a majority of seats. Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal.
Killing Iran’s most powerful general — a step Abdul-Mahdi called a “political assassination” — marked a turning point in U.S. Mideast policy by elevating a conflict that had previously been more of a shadow war, and by putting in doubt the Pentagon’s ability to keep troops in Iraq. (AP News)