“The huge demonstration and parliamentary vote cannot be ignored or dismissed by the US indefinitely; eventually, they will have to leave,” Rick Sterling from San Francisco Bay said in an interview with Tasnim.
“The continuing US military presence is an illegal occupation,” he said, adding, “In addition, the US bases in Iraq support the continuing illegal US bases in Syria.”
Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer who now writes about international issues. As a member of the Syria Solidarity Movement and a prominent analyst, his works and interviews have appeared in media outlets around the world.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: Iraqi people from all walks of life recently took to the streets in the capital, Baghdad for a million-man rally to call for an end to the military presence of the United States in their country. The rally was called by senior Iraqi resistance figures, a few weeks after the parliament voted to expel American troops following an illegal US airstrike in Baghdad that led to the assassination of Iranian IRGC Quds Force Commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. What do you think about the massive anti-US demonstration and how do you predict its outcome?
Sterling: The recent march in Iraq calling for "US Out" was an important message to the world. It clearly showed how unpopular the continued US presence is. In the United States, the media did not dare show how huge it was. The media talked about "thousands" of demonstrators instead of hundreds of thousands. In photos, they showed a small segment of the march instead of photos which show how massive it was. But certainly, the political and military establishment knows very well how big it was. The massive march in Iraq was a warning to the US occupying force to get out soon.
Tasnim: As you know, the massive demonstration and the Iraqi parliament's resolution calling for the expulsion of the foreign forces from the Arab country have called into question the legitimacy of Washington’s military presence in Iraq. Do you think that the Iraqi administration would finally be forced by the people and the parliament to expel the foreign troops?
Sterling: The US is showing its hypocrisy by ignoring the wishes of the Iraqi people. The US claims to seek freedom and democracy, yet they refuse to leave Iraq when they are not wanted. The huge demonstration and parliamentary vote cannot be ignored or dismissed by the US indefinitely. Eventually, they will have to leave. The continuing US military presence is an illegal occupation. In addition, the US bases in Iraq support the continuing illegal US bases in Syria. For both Iraq and Syria, the US troops need to get out. Iraq is increasingly looking to China for reconstruction support and this is another milestone showing Iraq is better off without US interference. Sooner or later the Iraqi government will require the US to leave despite the wishes of the US military and foreign policy establishment.
Tasnim: What do you think about the impact of the US move to assassinate Lt. Gen. Soleimani and revered commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on the unity of the Iraqi people and their call for the expulsion of the American troops?
Sterling: Many US commentators have said the killing of these highly respected leaders was counter-productive for US imperial interests. Why? Because the assassinations galvanized opposition to the US. On the other hand, US and Israeli ultra-hawks and reactionaries may have hoped that Iran would respond more aggressively. If Iran had retaliated by killing many US troops, which they could have, the US would have launched an even more bloody and dangerous aggression. The Iranian response was measured and avoided falling into the trap. Step by step, the US troops are going to be forced to leave Iraq and Syria. Hopefully, it will be with a minimum of bloodshed, but this depends on the US.