January 8, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8480

Iraqi Lawmakers' Decision To End U.S. Military Presence Sparks Debate Among Iraqis Regarding Parliament's Lack Of Legitimacy, Quorum

January 8, 2020
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8480

In response to the Iraqi Parliament's decision, on January 5, that demands that the Iraqi government take measures to end the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq, anti-Iran protesters in Iraq issued a statement on January 6, accusing the government and the parliament of working "against the interests of the nation."

"What happened in the parliament session are actions that are not related to the national interest, but actions that are trying to plunge Iraq into an international conflict," the statement says.


Further noting that the current parliament is lacking in legitimacy, the statement asserts that the parliament does not represent the Iraqi people, and that the last election in 2018 was widely boycotted: "Until it [parliament] restores its legitimacy it can not take actions or issue decisions against the interests of Iraq and its oppressed Iraqi people."

In their statement, the protesters also call on other Iraqis to stand together in the face of the "foolish adventures" that threaten to return Iraq to the "dark ages" – a reference to the period of time that Iraq had been under the economic sanctions that were imposed by the United Nation's Security Council on regime of Saddam Hussain.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament asked the government to "end the presence of any foreign forces"[1] on its soil by initiating a "cancellation of the assistance request" submitted to the international coalition to fight ISIS.

The Iraqi Parliament's press release[2] notes that 172 Iraqi lawmakers, out of 329, voted to approve a "decision," not a law, to end the presence of the U.S.-led international coalition in Iraq.

However, a photo analysis report[3] published on January 6 by Shar Press, a Kurdish news website, which thoroughly examined a video documenting the Iraqi parliamentary session, says that only 130 MPs were present on the day of the vote, while 167 MPs are required for quorum.

The report suggests that 58 out of 59 Iraqi Kurdish MPs boycotted the session and only 15 of the 70 Sunni MPs were present. Further the report also points out that six of 26 MPs from Nuri Al-Maliki's bloc (The State of Law Coalition), five out of 25 MPs from Haider Al-Abadi's bloc (Al-Nasr), and four of 15 MPs from Iyad Allawis's bloc (Al-Watinyia) were in attendance. The report further provides photos of the attendees and counts them.


Additionally, a video[4] documenting part of session that was not broadcast to the public raises questions regarding the validity of the quorum during that session. The video shows parliament speaker Mohammad Al-Halbousi, one of the few Sunnis who attended the session, addressing the lawmakers after the vote and requesting that the cameras be turned off.

He then warns the lawmakers of the consequences of their decision, saying that after the passing this decision, Iraq may not be able to fulfill its financial obligations to its citizens – possibly a reference to the potential sanctions that the U.S. may impose on Iraq should a withdrawal be imposed.

He further points out that many lawmakers who represent Sunnis, Kurds, and other minorities were not in attendance: "Today the attendees are Shi'ites, I wish - as in previous times - that the decision would have been Iraqi. Today you are [Shi'ite MPs] the older brother and you bear the responsibility of everyone. You bear the responsibility of your sons, brothers, and sisters from the Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds, and minorities from all over Iraq."

(Source: YouTube)


[2], January 5, 2020.

[3], January 6, 2020.

[4], January 6, 2020.

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