Part 8: Iraqi Reaction to U.S. Strike, Soleimani

Across Iraq, political and militia leaders uniformly condemned the U.S. drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, the founder of Kataib Hezbollah and deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).  They charged that the U.S. attack was conducted without the permission of the Iraqi government and was therefore a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. Pro-Iran members of parliament called for the immediate expulsion of U.S. troops, while other leaders warned against getting caught in the middle of a war between the United States and Iran. 

Iraqi politicians had also condemned the U.S. airstrikes on December 29, 2019 against Kataib Hezbollah, which were carried out without the government’s knowledge or permission. The Shiite militia-led assault against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on December 31 fueled the first calls by pro-Iran lawmakers to expel U.S. troops from Iraq.  Four days later, U.S. killed Soleimani and Muhandis. On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted – 170 to 0 – on a non-binding resolution to expel U.S. forces from the country. Almost half of the members of parliament, mostly Sunni and Kurdish, were not present for the vote.

The following are reactions of Iraqi lawmakers to the death of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis.


Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi

“The assassinations violate the conditions governing the presence of US forces in Iraq whose role is to train Iraqi forces and assist in the fight against Daesh as part of the Global Coalition, subject to the supervision and approval of the Iraqi government… [We will] take legislative steps and necessary provisions to safeguard Iraq’s dignity, security and sovereignty.”

– Jan. 3. 2020, in a statement on Twitter.


President Barham Salih

"Iraq must avoid the tragedies of armed conflict that have plagued it over four decades… It is our duty to stay united to protect the national interest, Iraq's sovereignty and security.”

– Jan 3. 2020 in a statement.

“The dynamics are dangerous—and I have to be deeply concerned that Iraq will be embroiled in yet another cycle of conflict. Iraq and its hard-won stability in the aftermath of the war on ISIS could unravel. This would have terrible consequences for Iraq and the region at large. We must do all that is possible to assert restraint and walk back from the brink.”

– Jan. 5, 2020, in an interview with The New Yorker.


Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al Halbousi

“Yesterday’s targeting of a military commander in Iraq’s armed forces near Baghdad international airport is a flagrant breach of sovereignty and violation of international agreements… Iraq must avoid becoming a battlefield or a side in any regional or international conflict.”

– Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement.


Muqtada al Sadr, leader of the Sairoon bloc

“As the patron of the patriotic Iraqi resistance I give the order for all mujahideen, especially the Mehdi Army, Promised Day Brigade, and all patriotic and disciplined groups to be ready to protect Iraq.”

– Jan. 3, 2020 in a statement on Twitter.

“I consider this a weak response insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation… [I call for] the cancellation of the security agreement [with the United States] immediately… [and] the closure of the U.S. embassy in Iraq immediately…I call on Iraqi resistance factions especially, and factions outside of Iraq, to instantly meet to announce the formation of International Resistance Regiments.”

– Jan. 5, 2020, in a statement on the non-binding parliamentary vote to expel U.S. troops.


Hadi Al Amiri, leader of the pro-Iran Fatah Alliance

“We call on all national forces to unify their stance in order to expel foreign troops whose presence has become pointless in Iraq.”

– Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement.


Qais al Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl Al Haq

“All fighters should be on high alert for upcoming battle and great victory. The price for the blood of the martyred commander Abu Mahdi al Muhandis is the complete end to American military presence in Iraq”

– Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement.


Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani

“The vicious attack on Baghdad international airport last night is an insolent breach of Iraqi sovereignty and international agreements. It led to the killing of several commanders who defeated Islamic State terrorists…These events and more indicate the country is heading towards very difficult times. We call on all concerned parties to behave with self restraints and act wisely.”

– Jan. 3, 2020, in a statement.