Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

USA forces staying in Iraq to watch Iran

USA forces staying in Iraq to watch Iran

Baghdad's position has also been complicated by Trump's shock December decision to pull troops out of neighbouring Syria, prompting pro-Iran factions to step up calls for an accelerated USA withdrawal from Iraq.

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump said it was important to keep a US military presence in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran, according to a CBS interview.

Trump's decision to leave Syria, which he initially said would be rapid but later slowed down, shocked USA allies led to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the top envoy to the anti-IS coalition, Brett McGurk.

"We will not allow this", he said, adding that American forces are in Iraq only to assist in the fight against terrorism.

Salih also said it in Iraq's "fundamental interest to develop good relations with our neighbors, including Iran".

"If somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do", he said in the interview aired on Sunday.

"I want to be able to watch Iran".

Trump said on Thursday he would bring USA troops home if a peace deal was reached to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

He said the US base in Iraq is "perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East". We have to protect other things that we have.

In December, Trump shocked the defense establishment by announcing the immediate withdrawal of troops from Syria, claiming the mission was complete after "defeating" the Islamic State.

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The report also mentioned that Turkish attacks against Kurdish positions were causing U.S. Kurdish allies to pull away from fighting ISIS in order to defend its own territory. They want peace. They're exhausted.

Trump's intelligence chief has described the Hashd as the "primary threat" to the United States in Iraq.

In a rebuke, the Republican-led US Senate advanced largely symbolic legislation opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The report by the inspector general of the Department of Defence warned that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group continues to attract dozens of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq each month, and maintains a flow of external donations.

Iraq's President Barham Saleh has rebuked Donald Trump over his comments that he wanted to maintain a United States military presence there to watch Iran.

Abadi added that the US participation in the anti-Islamic State worldwide coalition is mainly meant to serve the purposes of logistic support, intelligence and military training, not to endanger Iraqi sovereignty.

"Members of parliament's security, defence and foreign relations committees are now working hard to determine the exact number and real mission of the United States forces in Iraq", a high-level Iraqi government source told The New Arab's Arabic edition.

"Iran is our neighbor", the Iraqi leader said.

"If the Americans try to bring more troops to Iraq, there will be an escalation in the opposition to them", Jawad al-Musawi, a member of Iraq's Parliament, told The New York Times.

ISIS fighters in that region were described by operation officials as "battle-experienced, hardened and well disciplined". Afterward, he said, "they will be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately, some will be coming home".

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