JEDDAH: Protesters in Iraq denounced both Iran and the US as “occupiers” on Sunday as the fallout continued from the death of Iranian warlord Qassem Soleimani.
The Iraqi parliament voted for all foreign troops to leave, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said all US forces in the Middle East would pay the price for Soleimani’s death, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was likely to “make a mistake and … go after some of our forces in Iraq or northeast Syria.”
Soleimani, the Quds Force chief who set up and controlled proxy militias for Iran throughout the Middle East, was killed by a US drone missile strike near Baghdad airport early on Friday.
Black-clad mourners packed the Iranian city of Mashhad on Sunday as a coffin carrying Soleimani’s remains was paraded through the streets.
“Iran is wearing black, revenge, revenge,” they chanted as darkness fell and they followed the truck carrying the coffin toward the floodlit Imam Reza shrine.
In Iraq, however, attempts to hail Soleimani as a hero were resisted. Many Iraqis blame him for propping up the government they have been trying to bring down since early October, and protesters in the southern city of Nasiriyah blocked a mourning procession for him.
In Diwaniyah, also in the south, hundreds of young Iraqis marched through the streets chanting: “No to Iran, no to America.” One protester said: “We’re taking a stance against the two occupiers.”
Meanwhile, Iraq’s parliament called on Sunday for all foreign military forces to leave.
“The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, air space or water for any reason,” the resolution said.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Soleimani’s killing marked a new chapter in the history of the Middle East, and revenge attacks on the US military in the region would force them to withdraw “humiliated, defeated and in terror ... as they left in the past.”