Live updates: Iran holds massive funeral for slain commander in Tehran amid calls for vengeance


    President Trump may have balked at the idea of U.S. troops being asked to leave Iraq, but ending America’s 17-year military presence there may be easier for the country’s government than he thinks.

    Unlike most deployments stretching back to the aftermath the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, American troops in Iraq are not operating under a conventional status of forces agreement approved by the Iraqi parliament, according to experts.

    The presence of 5,000 U.S. troops as part of a global coalition fighting the Islamic State is based on an arrangement that is less formal and, ultimately, on the consent of an executive branch that urged parliament on Sunday to tell foreign forces to leave.

    “The current U.S. military presence is based of an exchange of letters at the executive level,” said Ramzy Mardini, an Iraq scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace who previously served in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

    “If the prime minister rescinds the invitation, the U.S. military must leave, unless it wants to maintain what would be an illegal occupation in a hostile environment,” Mardini said.

    Addressing Iraq’s wood-paneled parliament on Sunday, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi urged lawmakers to take “urgent measures” to force the withdrawal of foreign troops. Shortly after, the chamber passed a nonbinding resolution to that effect, and Abdul Mahdi’s office said that legal experts were drawing up a timetable for the pullout.

    “At this moment in time [the] government has not yet decided to remove foreign troops but it is probable soon as things stand,” Sajad Jiyad, managing director of the Baghdad-based Bayan Center think tank, wrote on Twitter.

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