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Abdul Mahdi: Trump Plan to Keep Troops in Iraq to “Watch Iran” Unhelpful

Abdul Mahdi: Trump Plan to Keep Troops in Iraq to “Watch Iran” Unhelpful    Abdul Mahdi: Trump Plan to Keep Troops in Iraq to “Watch Iran” Unhelpful

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called on US President Donald Trump to reverse his pledge to maintain a US military presence in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on neighboring Iran, stressing that the approach is not helpful.
“I don’t think that such statements [by Trump] regarding the presence of US troops in Iraq are useful,” the top Iraqi official said on Tuesday, Global News reported. 
“I hope that [Trump] would back down from them. I hope that our American friends would clarify their stance on these issues.”
Abdul Mahdi stressed that there are no American military bases in Iraq. 
“There are American trainers and military advisers within the framework of an international coalition, whose fundamental mission is to train Iraqi troops and combat Daesh [the self-styled Islamic State terror group],” he said.
“There is no other task for any force in Iraq other than these tasks. So when it was mentioned that the mission of these troops is to fight a neighboring country like Iran, we resist such concepts.”
In addition, Abdul Mahdi emphasized, “I will not allow Iraq to be used by any country against another. Iraq should not be a party to any battle between two states.”

 

 

Unacceptable Approach 

On Monday, Iraqi President Barham Salih also hit back at Trump’s comments, saying, “The Iraqi Constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a neighboring country.”
He said Trump did not ask Iraq’s permission for US troops stationed there to “watch Iran”, Reuters reported. 
“US forces were in the country legally under an agreement between the two countries, but that any action taken outside this framework is unacceptable,” he said.

 

The Iraqi prime minister said, “I will not allow Iraq to be used by any country against another. Iraq should not be a party to any battle between two states”

 


“Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues. The US is a major power ... but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here.”
Salih noted that it is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran and other neighboring countries.
In an interview with CBS television network broadcast on Sunday, Trump highlighted the importance of a military base in Iraq, saying it was crucial to the surveillance of Iranian activities.
“We spent a fortune on building this incredible base; we might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran,” he said in an apparent reference to Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq, to which he paid a visit during an unannounced trip to the country last December.
When asked whether he planned to use US forces in Iraq to “strike” Iran, Trump responded, “No … all I want to do is be able to watch.”

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