Barham Salih: Trump did not ask Iraq's permission to 'watch Iran'

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"I don't like endless wars", Trump said in a CBS Face the Nation interview on February 3, after he surprised USA lawmakers and global allies last month by announcing he was withdrawing all 2,000 US troops from Syria.

The Republican-led U.S. Senate backed largely symbolic legislation on Monday that broke with President Donald Trump by opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

On Syria, Trump said the 2,000 usa troops in the country would leave "in a matter of time" but cited the need to protect Israel "and other things that we have" for slowing down after initially announcing an immediate pull-out.

Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump's comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to "watch" Iran.

"We spent a fortune on building this incredible base, we might as well keep it. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up", he added.

Syrian schoolchildren walk as USA troops patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria Nov. 4, 2018. Moreover, the power vacuum caused by the departure of US troops in Syria could be filled by ISIS or al-Qaeda in Syria or Iraq, according to USA intelligence chiefs.

CIA director Gina Haspel told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week of ISIS: 'They're still unsafe, ' adding that they still command 'thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria'. He said the constitution forbids the use of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighboring countries.

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Some of the forces moving out of Syria will go to Iraq, where they can monitor any resurgence of ISIS or other militant groups and "ultimately some will be coming home", Trump said.

Iraq's government has been struggling to balance its relationships with Iran and the United States, its two biggest allies, as tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen under Trump's administration.

And, he said if al Qaeda and other terrorist groups grew in strength, USA forces would return to the region.

One concern of Washington is that Iran is looking to build a crescent of influence spanning Iraq and Syria, reaching the Mediterranean.

Trump also indicated that he is not in sync with the assessment of his intelligence chief on the nuclear weapons programme of North Korea. The report said that when us troops withdraw, it is "unclear what would occur with the Manbij agreement".

Trump Sunday that "They [intelligence officials] said they were mischaracterized", though none have claimed as much publicly.

The United States has pressured Iraq to wean itself off Iranian natural gas, which generates almost half of Iraq's electricity, with promises of us investment in the country's crumbling infrastructure.