Toronto, February 4: A day after US President Donald Trump said he would use the U.S. base in Iraq to keep “an eye on Iran,” Iraq’s President Barham Salih censured Trump in a public statement. Salih while speaking at a forum in Baghdad said, "Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues.”
He added, "The US is a major power... but do not pursue your own policy priorities. We live here." Salih also highlighted the fact that under the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, Washington had agreed not to use Iraq "as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries". He added: "Any action taken outside this framework is unacceptable."
These strong words from the Iraqi president come after his American counterpart shared a new detail about the movement of US troops in the region. Trump speaking during a CBS interview said that US troops who would soon be leaving Syria, would be transferred to the U.S.’s Al Asad Airbase in Iraq's Anbar province and that their new tasks would include protecting Israel and keeping an eye on Iran.
Trump said, “We spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it," he said. "And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem."
Upon being asked if the U.S. troops in Iraq could be used to launch a strike at Iran, Trump simply said, "All I want to do is be able to watch." "If there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do," he added. Read: Trump Admits US Troop Pull-out Could Cause a Resurgence of ISIS in Syria
Trump’s statements were bound to raise hackles in Iraq as it is an immediate neighbour of Iran and the country shares deep ties with Tehran. The Iranian regime supported the Iraqi government when Islamic State launched massive attacks and captured huge swathes of Iraqi territory. Iraq also has a majority Shia muslim population who have historic ties to Iran.