Iraq Irked by Trump’s Comments on “Watching Iran”

Iraq Irked by Trump’s Comments on “Watching Iran”Iraq Irked by Trump’s Comments on “Watching Iran”

Iraqi President Barham Salih voiced his disapproval of US President Donald Trump’s remarks about the purpose of the US forces’ presence in his country, saying Trump had not asked Baghdad’s permission for his troops based in the Arab country to “watch Iran”. 
Speaking at a forum in Baghdad on Monday, Salih was responding to a question about Trump’s comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to “watch” Iran.
"US troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism," Salih said, adding that they should stick to that.
Trump said it was important to keep a US military presence in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran “because [he claimed] Iran is a real problem”, according to a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday.
“Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues,” Salih said. “The US is a major power ... but do not pursue your own policy priorities; we live here.”
Iraq is in a difficult position as tensions between its two biggest allies, the United States and Iran, have risen.
“It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran” and other neighboring countries, Salih said, Reuters reported.


The Iraqi president says, “It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran” 

In his talk with CBS, Trump said the United States has spent a “fortune” on the Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq, which he visited in December, and that the US should hold on to it.
“One of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem,” he contended.
Asked if that meant he wanted to be able to strike against Iran, Trump said, “No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch.”



Endless Wars 

Trump also lamented “endless wars” in Syria and Afghanistan, and made clear he wants to reduce the costly US military presence in those countries despite warnings against such moves from his military advisers and spy chiefs.
The United States could rely heavily on intelligence work in Afghanistan, the US president said, and respond to developments in Syria from US bases in neighboring Iraq.
He defended his decision in December to withdraw troops from Syria but refused to provide a timetable for the pullout, which drew criticism from members of his own Republican Party and concerns among some allies.
In a rebuke, the Republican-led US Senate advanced largely symbolic legislation on Thursday opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Trump initially said the withdrawal from Syria should be immediate, but he has since said it would be gradual.
Some of the forces moving out of Syria will go to Iraq, where they can monitor any resurgence of the self-styled Islamic State or other militant groups and “ultimately some will be coming home”, Trump said.
He said US forces could be deployed again, if there is a resurgence of militant groups. “We’ll come back if we have to,” he said.
Trump said on Thursday he would bring US troops home if a peace deal was reached to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
He told CBS he would be open to keeping a small number of troops there as well as intelligence operations to monitor for “nests” of militant activity.
Trump did not say whether he trusted Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgent group but said he believed they want peace.
“They’re tired. Everybody’s tired,” Trump said. “I don’t like endless wars.”

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