Date :Thursday, February 7th, 2019 | Time : 23:17 |ID: 85698 | Print

Iraqi Politicians condemn Trump comments to use country to watch Iran

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SHAFAQNA | Nasibeh Yazdani- Iraq’s president and many other politicians in the country condemned Trump’s comments to US media in which he said American forces would remain at a US base in Iraq to “watch Iran”.

Mr. Trump, in an interview Sunday on CBS News, said he wants to maintain a military presence in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran “because Iran is a real problem.” The president said the U.S. had “spent a fortune” on a base in western Iraq he visited in December and should hold on to it, wsj reported.

“We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up,” he added.

President Trump’s unexpected announcement achieved a goal on Monday: unity in the Iraqi political establishment.

Comments come after Donald Trump suggested US forces in Iraq were monitoring activity in Iran.

Iraq’s president has hit back at comments made by Donald Trump, saying that the US president did not ask Iraq’s permission for US troops stationed there to “watch Iran”.

“We are surprised by the statements made by the U.S. president on the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq,” Barham Salih said at a forum in Baghdad. “Trump did not ask us to keep U.S. troops to watch Iran.”

According to Reuters, The Iraqi president said U.S. troops had no right to monitor Iran under the agreement between the two nations, and that their specific mission was to combat terrorism. He added that he would wait for clarifications from Washington on the numbers and nature of the U.S. troops’ mission in his country.

“Those forces do not have the right to monitor many things, including watching Iran. We will not allow this,” he added.

According to al Jazeera, Salih said any action taken outside that framework is “unacceptable”.

“Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues,” Salih said on Monday. “The US is a major power … but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here.”

It was of “fundamental interest” for Iraq to have good relations with Iran and other neighbouring countries, Salih added.

Abadi slams Trump remarks about use of Iraqi territory to “watch” Iran

On Sunday, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi also criticized remarks by Trump, the Iraqi News reported.

“The recent remarks about the use of American military bases in Iraq to target neighboring countries contradicts with the Iraqi constitution and agreements signed with the U.S.,” Iraqi Al-Taghier TV channel quoted Abadi’s media office as saying in a statement on Monday.

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

Abadi further called on the government to affirm Iraq’s unshakable stance that “Iraqi territory cannot be used against any neighboring country or any party”, Tehrantimes reported.

Amar Hakim: We consider Trump’s remarks as threat to our security

Amar Hakim, leader of the Iraqi National Alliance, also reacted to remarks by Trump, saying Baghdad “definitely” will not allow any country to use its soil to settle an account with others.
“We oppose that Iraq be used as a place to watch neighboring countries or provoke these countries or attack these countries,” Hakim wrote on his tweeter post.

“According to the constitution”, Hakim said, “Iraq must not threaten the security and stability of the region and the world”.

“We consider such remarks as a threat to our national interests and security of our country and Baghdad will never allow such a thing,” the political figure remarked.

‘Blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty’

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the U.S. has been quietly negotiating with Iraq for weeks to allow Special Forces and support troops now operating in Syria to shift to bases in Iraq and strike ISIS from there.

Citing two U.S. officials, the New York Times said senior US military officers recently visited several Iraqi bases, including in Erbil and the Ayn al-Asad Airbase, to determine if existing U.S. operations there could be expanded with troops moving in from Syria.

Trump admitted that staying in Iraq is a “mistake” and that attacking Iran is not an option, but the remarks sparked a new round of demands in Baghdad for US forces to leave the country.

On Monday, some called on Parliament to act quickly to push out the Americans. One of the more extreme statements came from the military spokesman for Iraqi pro-government Kata’ib Hezbollah voluntary forces who said that Mr. Trump’s comments made the “American forces legitimate targets for the Iraqi resistance”, nytimes told.

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, The Guardian reported.

Kaabi asserted that his country would never become a launchpad for attacks or a US backyard for intelligence gathering against other countries.

Citing a statement by al-Kaabi, Rudaw said the deputy speaker pledged to pass a law “terminating the security agreement with America, in addition to ending the presence of American military trainers and advisers and foreigners on Iraqi soil”.

Sabah al-Saadi, a member of parliament in the bloc led by influential anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr, has proposed a bill demanding a US pullout.

Iraq’s former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari also condemned Trump’s remarks, saying they were embarrassing for Baghdad.

Iraqi leaders say there are no American bases on its soil, stressing that only instructors are deployed at Iraqi bases.

Kurdish MP Sarkawt Shams tweeted that the mission of US troops in Iraq was “to help Iraqi security forces against terrorism, not ‘watching’ others.”

“We are expecting the United States to respect our mutual interests and avoid pushing Iraq into a regional conflict,” he said.

The veteran Kurdish politician warned Iraqi officials that the country would face difficult choices in future following Trump’s controversial statements, press tv reported.

This is not the first time Iraqi politicians has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Trump also angered Iraqi politicians in December after a three-hour visit to troops at Ayn al-Assad over Christmas, which did not include meetings with the Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, or any other officials.

Earlier that month, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw troops from Syria, claiming that the U.S. had defeated ISIS in the country. He also ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But during his visit to the Iraqi air base Trump said he had “no plans at all” to remove U.S. forces from Iraq, euronews reported.


Read more from Shafaqna:

Ayatollah Sistani: Iraq never becomes a center to harm other countries

Trump says he wants to Keep US Military Presence in Iraq to Watch Iran

Iraqi lawmakers demand US withdraw troops after surprise Trump visit

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