Diplomatic fallout from the targeted killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani last Friday began in earnest today as both Iran and Iraq took steps to retaliate against the United States.
This morning, the Iraqi parliament voted to ask the Iraqi government to remove foreign troops from the country and cancel its request for international assistance against ISIS. The resolution was backed by Iraq’s prime minister, Abdul Mahdi.
“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” the resolution said in part. “The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”
Shortly after, the news broke that Iran was canceling its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama. The Associated Press reported that Iran had taken several measured steps away from the deal since President Trump withdrew the US in May 2018, but Iranian state television now says, “The Islamic Republic of Iran no longer faces any limitations in operations.” As recently as August 2019, the IAEA reported that Iran was still in compliance with the main restrictions of the deal.
The new moves come after both Iran and the US issued threats against one another on Saturday. A Revolutionary Guards general, Gholamali Abuhamzeh, said in a Reuters report on Saturday, “The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there … vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since a long time ago … some 35 U.S. targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach.”
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iranian proxy group, Hezbollah, said in an AP report, “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.”
President Trump responded with a broadside on Twitter in which he threatened to target 52 Iranian targets, including some cultural sites, for attack. The president also said that the US may respond to an Iranian attack in a “disproportionate” manner.
The Trump Administration appears undeterred by the new developments in the Middle East. On Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Pompeo downplayed the significance of the Iraqi parliament vote, saying, “We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign, and we’ll continue to do all the things we need to do to keep America safe.”