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US has long history of punishing governments that defy American dictates

The United States has “hijacked” the anti-government protests in Iraq to destabilize the country for defying Washington’s demands, an American scholar says.

“The United States occupying Iraq was one of the greatest war crimes of the past century and the occupiers are now calling for immediate new elections,” said Kevin Barrett, an author, journalist and radio host with a Ph.D.  in Islamic and Arabic Studies.

“When the occupier says it’s time for the current government to step down on the basis of these protests, that’s a sign that the protest has been hijacked and weaponized by the occupation,” Barrett told Press TV on Monday.

“The US has a long history of punishing local leaders who stand up to its dictates,” he added. “We’ve seen dozens of coups and other forced regime changes by the US since World War ll, all over the world.”

In early 2003, the US, backed by the UK, invaded Iraq under the pretext that the regime of Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). No such weapons, however, were ever found in Iraq.

More than one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion, and the subsequent occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.

On Sunday, US President Donald Trump’s administration called on Iraqi officials to hold early elections as more people fall victim to ongoing anti-government protests that Baghdad says are being hijacked by foreign-backed elements.

In a statement, the White House asked the Iraqi government “to halt the violence against protesters and fulfill President [Barham] Salih’s promise to pass electoral reform and hold early elections.”

The US has been openly backing protesters in Iraq since they flooded the streets for the first time in early October to vent their anger over corruption and poor living conditions in one of the world’s wealthiest countries in terms of energy resources.

The demonstrators are now saying that they won’t back down unless the current government resigns.

The immense pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to resign has been partially attributed by some experts to Washington, which sees the prime minister as a major hurdle to its continued military presence in the Arab country.

When Trump announced last month that he would take US forces out of northern Syria and station them in Iraq, Abdul-Mahdi warned that the presence was unauthorized and the soldiers would be given a limited stay until they headed back to their own country.