President Salih said that to his knowledge American forces are only in Iraq to assist in the fight against terrorism.

President Trump’s plan to maintain a military presence in Iraq to “watch” over neighboring Iran has been rejected by Iraqi President Barham Salih.

According to The Washington Post, President Salih declined the request stating that the United States should not burden Iraq with its own “policy priorities.”

During an interview on CBS, President Trump said that the United States has “spent a fortune” building an “incredible” military base in Iraq.

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.

When asked if he intended to use the base to strike Iran, President Trump said it would be used only to “watch.”

Sources have claimed that there is growing resistance to Trump’s plans in the Middle East, with many viewing his attempts at increasing military presence in Iraq as the US trying to enforce its influence over the region, rather than wanting to help stabilize Baghdad and fight the Islamic State.

Following President Trump’s visit to an air base in Iraq in December, the country’s lawmakers pledged to draft a bill to expel US forces altogether. It is thought that there will be a dramatic reduction on the 5,000 plus troops stationed in Iraq in the near future.

After Trump made his controversial comments during the CBS interview, Iraqi officials and politicians rallied around to gain the support and momentum needed to expel US troops from the country. According to sources, the plans are in motion.

President Salih said Washington doesn’t have permission to use Iraq-based forces to monitor Iran and expressed his surprise at the idea. “We will not allow this,” he said.

The president insisted that to his knowledge American forces are only in Iraq to assist in the fight against terrorism. “Iraq does not want to be a party or axis to any conflict between multiple countries,” he said.

President Salih added that it is in Iraq’s “fundamental interest to develop good relations with our neighbors, including Iran.”

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Author

Ahmed Naser is a UK-based journalist with a deep understanding of the Middle East. Ahmed is a contributor to a wide range of regional publications in the Middle East. He works across print and digital media as a freelance editor and writer.

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