Iraqi president takes aim at Trump over using country to watch Iran

Arturo Kim
February 6, 2019

Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump's comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to "watch" Iran.

Kurdish lawmaker Sarkawt Shams tweeted that the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq was "to help Iraqi security forces against terrorism, not "watching" others". "We will never go back to the era of American domination", he said.

"This is what a lot of people don't understand", added Trump."We're going to keep watching, and we're going to keep seeing, and if there's trouble-if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things-we're going to know it before they do".

The US Senate approved by a large majority Monday an amendment critical of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, in a sign of the deep discontent caused by the policies within his own Republican ranks.

"Trump did not ask us to keep USA troops to watch Iran", Salih said at a forum in Baghdad. And it says, "If Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria it is very likely that ISIS will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence and territorial control".

Trump's administration has labelled Iran the greatest state sponsor of terror and the primary destabilizing influence in the Middle East. Those are seen as efforts to reassure allies anxious about shifts in US policy, including Trump's Syria plan.

USA troops who stay in Iraq will also keep an eye on Syria, the president added.

Votel told the Senate hearing he was not consulted ahead of Trump's surprise decision to withdraw about 2,000 troops from Syria, which helped trigger the resignation of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis.

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While singling out the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as "tenacious fighters", the inspector general noted the threat of a Turkish invasion against these US-backed forces, as Ankara views them to be linked to Turkish separatists.

Responding if he would consider leaving behind a small US military contingent in Afghanistan, the American commander-in-chief said, "Yes".

US military commanders rely heavily on Syrian forces to gather intelligence from information and material gathered from the battlefield, but also a wide-range of informers with firsthand knowledge about ISIS operations.

President Trump speaks at a hanger rally at al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Left unsaid is that these grievances are a product of upheaval caused by the 2003 USA invasion of Iraq and the United States support for sectarian rebels in Syria starting in 2011.

The report echoes what intelligence chiefs told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week - that a vacuum left by the departure of usa troops could be filled by ISIS or al Qaeda in Syria or Iraq. "We can come back very quickly".

"The Iraqi constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a neighboring country", he said. A scheduled meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was scrapped and the two leaders spoke over the phone instead.

This is not the first time an Iraqi lawmaker has called for the withdrawal of USA troops.

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