Intel: Why Trump's Iran policy is sparking Iraqi outrage

Intel: Why Trump's Iran policy is sparking Iraqi outrage

Iraqi President Barham Salih has said US President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission US troops stationed there to "watch Iran".

Stating that Iraq wanted to be on good terms with all of its neighbors, Salih stressed that it was in his country's "fundamental interest" to have a cordial relationship with Iran.

Trump on Saturday said he wanted to keep American soldiers in Iraq to "watch Iran", but official agreements between the USA and Iraq limit their remit to fighting terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and providing training and tactical advice to Iraqi forces.

Trump's remarks that come weeks after the USA president sparked outrage in Iraq by visiting United States troops at Ain al-Asad base without meeting a single Iraqi official, are fuelling renewed calls for the expulsion of U.S. forces. "It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up", he underscored. "We have a base in Iraq and the base is a fantastic edifice", he said.

Trump announced in December that the 2,000 US troops in Syria would be withdrawn on the grounds that Islamic State militants no longer pose a threat.

In the CBS interview, Trump said the US has an "incredible base" in Iraq that he intends to keep, "because I want to be able to watch Iran".

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting to "discuss fighting human trafficking on the southern border" in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, US on February 1, 2019.

"Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues", Salih said of the US' growing tensions with Iran.

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He also said the U.S. isn't really leaving because they will maintain the base in Iraq - "a fantastic edifice".

That would allow military leaders to maintain pressure on the armed group even as officials follow Trump's orders to withdraw some 3,000 troops from Syria.

Iraq is in a hard position as tensions between its two biggest allies, the United States and Iran, increase.

One concern of Washington is that Iran is looking to build a crescent of influence spanning Iraq and Syria, reaching the Mediterranean.

U.S. troops must stay in the Middle East to protect Israel, Trump added.

Sabah al-Saadi, a member of parliament in the bloc led by influential anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, has proposed a bill demanding a US pullout. The report said that when USA troops withdraw, it is "unclear what would occur with the Manbij agreement".

Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, Iraq's deputy speaker of parliament, said Trump's latest comments were a "blatant and overt violation of sovereignty and national will", according to local media.

Afterward, "they will be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately, some will be coming home", he added.