A new report on Sunday suggested that the Trump administration attempted to derail an Iraqi parliamentary vote to remove United States military troops from the country in the wake of the fallout from the surprise U.S. drone strike in Iraq that resulted in the death of several Iranian military commanders, including Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
According to Axios, unidentified members of the Trump administration tried to wield influence over the parliamentary’s vote to pass a resolution that would expel U.S. troops from the country. The administration officials failed to have the vote killed as it passed later on Sunday.
Two officials from the U.S. government and one Iraqi official told Axios about the administration’s attempt.
“I think it would be inconvenient for us, but it would be catastrophic for Iraq,” one of the U.S. government officials reportedly said.
“It’s our concern that Iraq would take a short-term decision that would have catastrophic long-term implications for the country and its security.”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus went on record after the Iraqi parliamentary vote, expressing concern that without a U.S. presence in Iraq, the continued fight against terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State group would fall apart, leading to potentially disastrous consequences for the region.
“We believe it is in the shared interests of the United States and Iraq to continue fighting ISIS together. This administration remains committed to a sovereign, stable, and prosperous Iraq,” Ortagus said.
Axios also reported that the parliamentary vote was not attended by some of the more United States-friendly members, such as the Sunni and Kurdish members. The anonymous U.S. official explained that the vote was a “temporary victory for the parties which are pro-Iranian” and suggested that the members who didn’t attend the vote did it as a show of support for keeping U.S. troops in the country.
The bill will still need to be approved by the Iraqi government and there’s no current indication of when that might happen.
Not long after news broke regarding the successful passing of the resolution to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that if it comes to fruition and if it’s not on friendly terms, he would not hesitate to slam Iraq with heavy sanctions.
“We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame,” Trump said, according to The Hill.
Trump doubled down on his warning to Iran concerning any actions they might take against the United States in a retaliatory fashion for Soleimani’s death. The president insisted he will strike Iranian cultural sites, which drew heavy criticism, with some calling such an action, should it take place, a war crime.