‘Withdraw or Prepare Coffins’: Iraqi Protesters Demand US Troops Exit

Sadr-led protest draws tens of thousands

Get out, get out, occupier!” was the slogan of the day in Baghdad, where a protest march called by Moqtada al-Sadr drew tens of thousands of demonstrators calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The status of US troops has been controversial for awhile in Iraq, but became dramatically more so after the US attack on Baghdad International Airport earlier this month, which killed a top Iranian general as well as members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Concern is high that, left to their own devices, the US would end up not only starting a war with Iran, but would use Iraq as the battleground for that war. This led Iraq’s parliament to vote 170-0 to instruct the government to order US and all foreign troops out of the country.

But that hasn’t happened. The vote was almost immediately followed by President Trump threatening massive sanctions, and even to seize Iraq’s oil trade bank account, the source of 90% of the government’s revenue. Since then, Iraq’s PM Adel Abdul Mahdi has backed away from talk of the US leaving, saying that’ll be a matter for the next government to contend with.

Protesters don’t seem comfortable waiting, with one holding a placard warning that the US needs to bring its troops home or “prepare their coffins.” Others added that with the US not leaving after the parliament vote, it is to be viewed as an occupying force.

It would be difficult to contest the portrayal of the US as an occupier at this point, as the administration has made very clear that US troops have no intention of leaving Iraq, even if asked by the Iraqis.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.