President Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the U.S. is forced to withdraw its troops from the nation after the Iraqi parliament, responding to a U.S. airstrike that killed a powerful Iranian general on its soil, voted in favor of expelling American forces.
The nonbinding resolution—passed Sunday with the backing of Shiite politicians—urges Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to rescind Iraq’s invitation to U.S. forces that helped rescue the country after Islamic State overran about one third of its territory in 2014.
Mr. Abdul-Mahdi called on lawmakers to back the resolution, but it wasn’t clear how he would proceed. He resigned as prime minister last year and has since presided over a caretaker government.
Mr. Trump balked at leaving Iraq without reimbursement.
“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build,” Mr. Trump said on Air Force One as he returned to Washington from Florida. “We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”
Unless the U.S. exits Iraq on a “very friendly basis,” Mr. Trump said, the U.S. “will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever.”
Mr. Trump also repeated his threat that the U.S. could target Iranian cultural sites if tensions between the two countries escalate further.
“They’re allowed to kill our people,” he said. “They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.”
The vote in Iraq’s parliament showed how the backlash against Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing is weighing on relations between the U.S. and Iraq, pushing the Baghdad government into closer alignment with Tehran. It throws further doubt on the future of the 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and the campaign against Islamic State at a time the militants are seeking to regroup.
Mr. Abdul-Mahdi and politicians said the U.S. had violated Iraq’s sovereignty with its strikes targeting Gen. Soleimani, the architect of deadly Iranian shadow wars throughout the Middle East, and top Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes.
Lawmakers during and after the session chanted: “Out, out, occupier! No, no to America! No, no to Israel!”
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President Trump threatened Iraq with sanctions and a bill for billions of dollars if the U.S. is forced to withdraw its troops from the nation after the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of expelling American forces after the killing of an Iranian general.
When Iraq’s parliament voted to expel American troops from the country, it was an apparent bid by the government to extract the country from an escalating US-Iran proxy war.
In a rapidly intensifying regional backlash to the Trump administration’s killing of a senior Iranian general, Iran Sunday that it was tossing aside a pledge to limit the production of nuclear fuel, and the Iraqi parliament voted to expel U.S. troops.