IraqMiddle EastNorth AmericaQasem Suleimani

US does not seek to leave region, has to be forcibly expelled by resistance: Senior Iraqi cleric

A senior Iraqi cleric has said that American forces do not intend to leave the Middle East region and have to be consequentially expelled forcibly by means of resistance.

“The Americans have to be ousted because they do not intend to leave by themselves. Only resistance can expel them,” Baghdad Friday prayers leader Sayed Yasin al-Mousavi said.

“One who seeks the continuation of US presence in the region, and for no resistance to take place against it, is actually seeking to delay the end of injustice over the world,” he said.

Citing certain Muslim prayers during the holy month of Ramadan, al-Mousavi added that it was necessary to pray for the expulsion of US forces.

The Iraqi parliament voted in January to expel foreign forces led by Washington from the country.

The decision came in response to the US assassination of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units deputy commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, alongside Iran’s top anti-terror Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, in the capital city Baghdad earlier in January.

Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to take up arms against US forces if Washington fails to comply with the parliamentary order.

Countering US meddling in the country is regarded as one of the main challenges to the new government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Khadimi’s cabinet was approved by parliament on Wednesday, ending six months of political uncertainty in the Arab country.

On Thursday, Khadhimi visited Ammar al-Hakim, head of the National Wisdom Movement, to discuss challenges facing the country, including the COVID-19 outbreak and Iraq’s faltering oil-dependent economy amid a steep fall in international oil sales.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also invited the premier to visit the oil-rich kingdom, according to a statement issued by the Office of the Iraqi Presidency on Thursday.

Riyadh, along with Washington, has long sought to interfere in the country by coupling economic incentives with aid for terrorist groups such as the Deash Takfiri outfit.

Daesh overran large swathes of the country after unleashing a deadly campaign in 2014.

The formation of voluntary forces later known as the PMU, however, allowed Iraq to gradually bring the Daesh advance to a standstill, ultimately leading to the group losing all control over Iraqi territory in 2017.

Daesh sleeper cells have, nonetheless, continued sporadic terrorist attacks across the country.

The group has mounted a string of increasing attacks over the past week, specifically targeting the PMU as the Iraqi government’s security response is hampered amid the COVID-19 outbreak and ongoing political uncertainty.

The Deash attacks on the PMU come as Washington has also launched several raids on affiliated Iraqi resistance groups in the past months.

Daesh attacks increase as US refuses assistance

On Thursday, the CNN reported that the US has suspended “significant aspects” of its so-called anti-terrorism operations in the region due to the coronavirus.

Washington deployed troops to Iraq as part of a so-called international coalition to fight Daesh in 2014.

Many have, however, questioned the true motives behind such deployments, arguing that the US-led forces have not targeted Daesh effectively and have in certain cases provided the terrorists with assistance.

US failure to assist the Iraqi government in anti-terrorism operations comes as US President Donald Trump said that American presence in the country served to “watch Iran” in a speech last year.

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