Global tensions are mounting following the United States’ assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport Friday morning. Up to a million mourners poured into the streets of Iran and Iraq for the funeral procession of the longtime leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. In response to the assassination, the Iraqi Parliament voted Sunday to expel all U.S. military forces from Iraq. President Trump responded by threatening to impose sanctions on Iraq “like they’ve never seen before.” Iraq has already been the target of some of the harshest sanctions the world has even seen. U.S.-backed sanctions killed more than a million Iraqis, including over 500,000 children, between 1990 and 2003. Trump has also threatened to target 52 locations in Iran, including cultural sites, if Iran retaliates against the U.S. The targeting of cultural sites is widely viewed as a war crime. Trump said the number 52 was for Iran’s taking of 52 hostages 40 years ago. The Pentagon says it’s sending nearly 3,000 more troops to the Middle East from the 82nd Airborne Division. Iran says it’s pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal. The United States has already pulled out of the nuclear deal. Many Iraqi residents say they are concerned the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran will engulf Iraq. This is Baghdad resident Naji Khathem.
Naji Khathem: “It is a horrific atmosphere. They want us to live in chaos, worse than what we live in now. There will be more killings, and the fight between the U.S. and Iran will move to Iraq. They don’t care that we are protesting for our rights. What is coming will be worse.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and California Congressmember Ro Khanna have introduced new legislation that would block funding for any military action “in or against Iran” without congressional authorization. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote this week on a war powers resolution to limit Trump’s military actions. Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations says more than 60 Iranians and Iranian Americans were stopped and held for hours of questioning at the U.S.-Canada border over the weekend as they were trying to return to the United States, many after attending a concert in Vancouver. Advocates say some were denied entry into the U.S.