As tensions rise between the US and Iran following the killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iraqis refuse to allow their country to turn into a battleground.
Protesters in the city of Basra, in southern Iraq, have come out to express their views on the recent escalation of tensions between Iran and the US following a spate of attacks on military bases within Iraq and the killing of the Iranian commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani.
“We are peaceful and have nothing to do with America or Iran. We want a homeland and demand our rights. We are peaceful people, our sit-in is peaceful, and we do not want any party to participate in the demonstrations”, noted one of the protesters on the streets of Basra.
The residents of Basra are reluctant to see their country turn into a battlefield where regional and global powers carry out operations in order to fulfill their intrigues on the soil of a third party. They stress the fact that the demonstrations that have been taking place in the country for around three months have been focused on national issues and they see the interference of foreign forces in internal affairs as a flagrant infringement of their national independence and sovereignty.
“We have nothing to do with what happens outside the protest squares, whether they are individuals or parties. This is a settling of scores and we have absolutely nothing to do with it”, stated another protester in Basra.
The protest in Basra comes on the back of a vote held in the Iraqi parliament regarding the presence of foreign troops in the country. Amidst a low turnout in parliament, 170 MPs voted in favour of a resolution to expel foreign troops from Iraq. Nevertheless, this vote only carries symbolic weight and is not legally binding.
The past 10 days have seen missiles launched on the K1 air base, which hosts Iraqi and American troops. The US retaliated by launching its own missiles against bases of the Kataib Hezbollah faction of the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) before the killing of Qassem Soleimani.