Iraqi president hits back at Pres. Trump over US army presence

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"If somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do", he said in the interview aired on Sunday.

When asked if he was keeping troops in Iraq because he wanted to launch a strike against Iran, Trump said: "No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. We will never go back to the era of American domination", he said.

The US military commander overseeing American troops in the Middle East has told a Senate hearing that he was not consulted ahead of Donald Trump's surprise decision in December to pull US troops out of Syria. He also tells @margbrennan one of the reasons he wants to keep troops in Iraq is "to be able to watch Iran".

Salih also emphasized Iraq's own primary political concerns, emphasizing the "fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran".

For opponents of American influence in Iraq, Trump's comments were confirmation of their belief that the United States seeks to use the country to pursue policies aimed at further isolating Iran.

After a bitterly disputed vote, the US brokered a power-sharing agreement between Ghani and Abdullah in 2014.

The proposed bill also enoys the support of Iranian-backed blocs in the parliament, The New Arab reported in December but pressure from the prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has so far blocked it, as he tries to balance Baghdad's relations with its two rival allies, the USA and Iran.

The withdrawal will fulfill Trump's goal of bringing troops home from Syria, but military leaders have pushed back for months, arguing that ISIL remains a threat and could regroup.

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"We are surprised by the statements made by the USA president on the presence of USA troops in Iraq", Salih said at a forum in Baghdad.

Stephen Myrow, managing partner with Beacon Policy Advisors, a Washington DC-based policy analysis firm, said the U.S. president was using the interview to move the debate on from the government shutdown.

While the amendment is a nonbinding provision without the force of law, it sent a clear message to the White House that any plans to immediately pull troops out of war zones could jeopardize the fight against groups like the so-called Islamic State, leave Kurdish allies on the ground defenseless, and embolden US adversaries like Russian Federation and Iran.

A variety of Iraqi lawmakers used Trump's visit to the al-Asad base in December to call on US forces to leave the country.

President Trump speaks at a hanger rally at al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.

Trump also tasked the Pentagon late previous year to start making plans for cutting the USA force in Afghanistan in half.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said at the time that the American president's visit had broken conditions set by Baghdad.

The US leader was also facing opposition yesterday from his own side on calling a state of national emergency to seize funding for his main domestic initiative - the wall he wants to build on the Mexican border. He alleged PMF fighters stopped the survey operation after US troops reached the Presidential Palace area near the Mosul Hotel where a PMF headquarter is based.

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