Last Friday, January 24, 2020, about a million Iraqis went out protesting the American government’s military presence in their country.
Former Congressman Ron Paul noted how little media coverage this event received, arguing that “Beltway elites are determined that Americans not know or understand just how much our presence in Iraq is not wanted.”
Most of the protesters were those sympathetic to the nationalist Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is an opponent of both US and Iranian presence in Iraq.
Protesters waved signs demanding that the U.S. military withdraw from Iraq, while protest leaders warned of potential consequences should the U.S. government continue its occupation of the country.
After the Trump administration authorized the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, the Iraqi parliament unanimously voted to rescind the agreement under which the U.S. government maintains a military presence in Iraq. However, when the Iraqi prime minister contacted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in search of a potential timetable for an America withdrawal, Pompeo rebuffed him.
In response, the U.S. government made a statement where it declared that the U.S. military is a “force for good” in the Middle East and because of the continuing fight against ISIS, American troops will remain, regardless of whether they are wanted or not.
Paul raised some valid points about how much more the American government has to spend to build Iraq’s democracy and how contradictory the U.S. government’s approach is regarding Iraq:
“How many billions of dollars have we sent to Iraq to help them build their democracy? Yet as soon as a decision of Iraq’s elected parliament goes against Washington’s wishes, the US government is no longer so interested in democracy. Do they think the Iraqis don’t notice this double-dealing?”
D.C. political elites have become dangerously detached from the situation on the ground in Iraq. Although, a substantial number of people celebrated the assassination of Soleimani, there was another significant portion of people that supported him and mourned his death. All in all, the Middle East remains a powder keg no matter how Swamp elites spin it.
The recent protests called for all U.S. military bases to be closed, all security agreements between the U.S. and U.S. security companies to be terminated, and a timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces.
Sadr proclaimed that resistance to the U.S. military occupation in Iraq will cease temporarily if a structured departure is announced and carried out. If this does not happen, however, Sadr promised more pushback against U.S. troops.
As the former congressman put it brilliantly, the U.S. government should actually listen to the Iraqi people and bring our troops home. He concluded, “Let the people of the Middle East solve their own problems and let’s solve our problems at home.”
With over $1 trillion spent on nation-building in Iraq, it’s become clear that the U.S. has overstayed its welcome in Iraq by a long-shot.