Iraq’s Shiite militias have offered a surprise “ceasefire” by which they pledge to stop attacking US targets and the rest of the Western forces in the country in exchange for a timetable for their withdrawal. The proposal includes “all the resistance factions, including those that have attacked the US forces,” revealed Mohammed Mohi, spokesman for Kataeb Hezbollah, one of the most important factions in the country, without providing further details.
These armed groups, close to Iran, signed the communiqué under the name of the newly created Commission for the Coordination of the Iraqi Resistance and put as the only condition a clear plan to the departure of United States forces. “If they insist on staying in the country, they risk much more violent attacks,” Mohi warned, in a statement that sounded like an ultimatum to his government and the White House.
This announcement came a few days after Washington threatened to close its embassy in Baghdad if the rocket fire did not stop and a bomb exploded as a convoy passed through the south of the country, attacks that Mohi described as “messages to say that you are not welcome.
The Pentagon, which deployed up to 170,000 troops on Iraqi soil, now has 5,000 men on the ground. They are part of the international mission that fights jihadist group Islamic State (IS) and it trains the local forces, and, as in Afghanistan, they are in the process of withdrawal. On the same day that Trump advanced the withdrawal of his troops from Afghan soil for this Christmas, he signaled his intention to reduce the contingent in Iraq to 3,000 troops.
The militias maintain their pulse with Washington, but have lost popularity in the streets due to their repressive work in the social mobilizations that Iraq has been experiencing for a year and the population’s fear that they will turn the country into a battlefield between the United States and Iran. Iraqis are exhausted from so much violence and this declaration of truce will help ease the tension of recent months.
Assassination of Suleimani
Since the 2003 invasion, Iraq has maintained a rare balance in the region in its relations with Iran, a neighbor and great Shiite power, and the United States, responsible for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the change of system. On January 3, Donald Trump ordered the assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, leader of the outer arm of the Revolutionary Guard and responsible for the network of militias loyal to Tehran in the region.
Suleimani had just landed in Baghdad and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of these Shiite paramilitary groups in Iraq, also died in this operation, who came to welcome him to the airport. The militias swore revenge and since then there have been missile attacks on the US legation located in the Green Zone.
That operation ordered by Trump made a move to Parliament in Baghdad, which approved a motion to ask the Government to order the withdrawal of United States forces. According to the text, the Executive did not promise “to revoke its request for help to the international coalition that is fighting the Islamic State, due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory”, but ten months have passed and a withdrawal schedule has not been made public. Now the militias urge the authorities to make a move.