Trump’s Iraq comment prompts confusion and condemnation
- President Donald Trump's suggestion that the US would use a base in Iraq as a means to "watch" Iran evoked the scorn of Iraqi lawmakers on Monday and seemed to cause confusion among Pentagon officials and analysts.
- "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," Trump told CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, adding that he wouldn't use the US military outpost to strike Iran, but to "watch" it.
President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the US would use a base in Iraq as a means to “watch” Iran evoked the scorn of Iraqi lawmakers on Monday and seemed to cause confusion among Pentagon officials and analysts, while the State Department told CNN that the US mission in Iraq remains unchanged.
Trump’s comments were strongly rejected by current and former Iraqi political leaders. Iraqi President Bahram Salih said that the US had not asked permission to have forces on the ground “watch Iran,” noting that “the US presence in Iraq is a part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific task which is to combat terrorism.”
“Its interests should not be compromised. Iraq should not be used as a spring board to attack its neighbours. We are not proxies in conflicts outside the interests of our nation,” he wrote. Multiple defense officials tell CNN that the President’s remarks on monitoring Iran from Iraq were unclear to Pentagon officials who were unsure if they indicated the US mission in Iraq is changing. A senior State Department official told reporters on Monday that the US mission in Iraq has not changed.
Retired Lt. General Mark Hertling, a CNN military analyst who commanded troops in Iraq, said he was unclear on what the President was talking about. “I’m not sure you can watch Iran from inside Iraq,” he said on CNN’s “At This Hour.” “The United States military is in Iraq to provide support for their government in their fight against ISIS, not to be looking at other states in the region.”
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