Amidst growing tension between Iran and the United States after the US killing of top Iranian military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, on January 3, large crowds have taken to the streets of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad to denounce the US military presence in Iraq.
Iranian backed militias are thought to be amongst those protesting and Iraqi shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for a million people to join the marches. 5,000 US soldiers are stationed in Iraq as members of the international coalition against the so-called Islamic State.
Tensions between the US and Iran arose in the region after the assassination of General Soleimani. According to the BBC, ‘the United States regarded Soleimani as a terrorist responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops and was plotting “imminent” attacks’. The general was assassinated during a targeted U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on January 3 2020. Many Iraqis responded to the assassination by taking to the streets of Baghdad waving Iraqi and militia flags chanting “death to America”.
Earlier this month, a non-binding resolution was passed by Iraqi lawmakers that called for the departure of all foreign troops. As the world watches with great anxiety and anticipation, these protests provide yet another example of increasing tensions in a region growing in further instability.