2/4/2019 12:17:00 PM Iraqi president angered by Trump remarks
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s president hit back at Donald Trump today for saying U.S. troops should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran, saying the U.S. leader did not ask for Iraq’s permission to do so.
“We find these comments strange,” said Barham Salih, speaking at a forum in Baghdad.
Salih said U.S. troops were in Iraq as part of an agreement between the two countries and with a specific mission of assisting in the fight against the Islamic State group and combatting “terrorism.” He said the Iraqi constitution forbids the use of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighboring countries.
“Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues,” he added.
Salih was responding to comments Trump made in an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in which he said the U.S. has an “incredible base” in Iraq that he intends to keep, “because I want to be able to watch Iran.”
“We spent a fortune on building this incredible base,” Trump said. “We might as well keep it. 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.”
He said the U.S. base in Iraq is “perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East.”
Former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also weighed in on Monday, saying Iraqi sovereignty must be respected and its interests should not be compromised.
“Iraq should not be used as a spring board to attack its neighbors. We are not proxies in conflicts outside the interests of our nation,” he wrote in a Twitter post.