Iraq's parliament voted on a resolution to expel U.S. forces from the country (NINA)
Iran’s plan in Iraq was to re-focus the political class and the media narrative on a topic of its choosing rather than the protests, which were not only demanding better governance but an end to Iranian influence. Tehran is largely succeeding in its strategy.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander General Qasim Suleimani reportedly met with his allies in Iraq and laid out Tehran’s strategy. The plan was for pro-Iran Hashd groups to increase attacks upon U.S. interests to provoke a response from Washington. That would then divert attention away from the demonstrations that led to a political crisis in Baghdad with the resignation of Prime Minister Adl Abdul Mahdi. Iran wanted the country’s ruling class to focus upon something they could agree upon and that would benefit Tehran, namely the withdrawal of U.S. forces. That has largely gone as planned.
After the U.S. killed General Suleimani and the deputy head of the Hashd Commission Abu Muhandis Iraq’s parliament started discussing expelling the Americans rather than the protests or picking a new premier. Resigned Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi called on lawmakers to hold a special session to discuss the U.S. He went on to say that the Americans had violated the conditions of their agreement to help Iraq in the war against the Islamic State. Badr’s Hadi Amiri, the Dawa Party, and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon all talked about Iraq’s sovereignty and having to deal with the U.S. presence. That resulted in a non-binding resolution passed on January 5 calling for a U.S. withdrawal. This is exactly what Tehran wanted. It has derailed Iraqi politics by making it focus upon a topic of its choosing rather than its pressing internal issues.
Hjelmgaard, Kim, “Iraq votes to expel U.S. troops after Iran Ge. Qasem Soleimani’s killing,” USA Today, 1/5/20
NINA, “The House of Representatives: Postponing the nomination of the PM until the vote on the decision to oust the foreign forces,” 1/4/20
Rwanduzy, Mohammed, “Major Iraqi Shiite parties call for unity to expel US troops,” Rudaw, 1/3/20
Sotaliraq, “How Qassim Soleimani planned to attack American forces in Iraq,” 1/4/20