For non-Arabic speakers, reporting in the main news outlets NYT and Wash Post is so misinformed (either on purpose or because of incompetence) that you might think that the Iraqi State has officially voted for ejecting US forces from Iraq (because of Trump’s miscalculated move— Hussain Abdul-Hussain 🇺🇸 (@hahussain) January 5, 2020
For non-Arabic speakers, reporting in the main news outlets NYT and Wash Post is so misinformed (either on purpose or because of incompetence) that you might think that the Iraqi State has officially voted for ejecting US forces from Iraq (because of Trump’s miscalculated move to kill Soleimani). What happened is different.
1- Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi sent a letter to Parliament in which he argued US troops exist in Iraq, not based on a treaty ratified by Parliament, but on 2 letters from past cabinets to the UN. Hence, Parliament has no role in ejection.
2- Iraqi PM’s trying to trade disarming Shia militias for limiting scope of US troops. He wrote: “Whoever wants to become a political power, has to surrender arms, join armed forces, and forgo any political allegiance (i.e. to Iran) other than to military and commander-in-chief.”
3- Iraq parliament barely had a quorum for session on ejecting US troops. Sunni and Kurdish blocs boycotted the session (thus taking America’s side over Iran), and thus quorum was 170 of 328 (half + 4, just like Hezbollah designated a PM in Lebanese parliament with half + 4)
4- The text Iraqi Parliament voted on was not a legislation, but a non-binding resolution.
5- To deflect Iranian anger, Abdul-Mahdi said US troops will leave, according to timetable. Troops of Assad dynasty occupied Lebanon for 29 years, with Assad and Lebanese saying withdrawal on its way, but tied to timetable. In Mid Eastern countries, timetables mean indefinitely
6- In his letter to Parliament, Abdul-Mahdi clearly states that Iraqi interest is to maintain neutrality between America and Iran, and that if Iraq antagonizes America, it risks losing its international status (and implicitly oil revenue, just like Iran).
7- NYT is, by far, much more pro-Iran than Wash Post. The post reported that “tens of thousands” mourned Soleimani in Ahwaz. NYT made the number of mourners “hundreds of thousands.”
Bottom line is, Iraqi parliament vote was an Iranian face-saving measure. Iran is in a bind: If it retaliates without claiming its attack, it does not count as revenge for Soleimani. If Iran claims the attack, regime risks further wrath, in a country whose economy is in free fall.
The most probable outcome of Soleimani’s killing is more of the same: Low-intensity Iranian warfare against America, Iran never engaging in direct war, but maintaining her proxy war, fighting America to the last Arab. But with Soleimani out, Iranian proxy war will be much weaker.