Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Trump says he'll keep USA troops in Iraq to 'watch Iran'

Trump says he'll keep USA troops in Iraq to 'watch Iran'

Why it matters: Amid bipartisan push-back against his decision to pull USA troops out of Syria, the president told CBS in an interview that ran Sunday that Al-Asad base in Anbar province, which the president visited just after Christmas, could deal with the Iranian threat.

"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.

Trump's comments to CBS could undermine those negotiations by inflaming fears among Iraqis that United States military activity in Iraq was aimed at checking Iran, and not defeating ISIL, the Times said.

Paul called the amendment - which McConnell authored and is widely viewed as a rebuke to Trump's plans to withdraw troops from the two countries - a product of a "war caucus" that Paul said includes Republicans and Democrats. It is expected to reconvene in March, after a break.

The troop withdrawals vote came as part of a broader debate over US policy in the Middle East, and legislation that would specifically allow localities to refuse to do business with organizations that boycott Israel. He pulled out of the nuclear deal last May, undoing years of diplomacy by his predecessor, and has reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The report noted, on the positive side, that this year's Shiite pilgrimages were conducted without major terrorist attacks by Islamic State - an extremist Sunni group.

WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Senate on Monday voted overwhelmingly to approve a symbolic resolution urging President Donald Trump not to proceed with plans for a hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops from their yearslong fight against terrorism overseas.

Deputy speaker of parliament Hassan Karim al-Kaabi, also close to Sadr, said they were a "new provocation", weeks after the United States president sparked outrage in Iraq by visiting U.S. troops at Ain al-Asad without meeting a single Iraqi official.

"Iraqi sovereignty must be respected", tweeted Iraq's President Barham Salih on Monday. "Trump did not ask us to keep USA troops to watch Iran".

Trump defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria but refused to provide a timetable for the pullout, which was criticized by members of his own Republican Party and caused concern among some allies in the region.

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It was only in mid-November, when the YPG was back in the fight, that the SDF was able to roll back IS gains, the report said, describing the YPG "paramount to stability and efforts to defeat ISIS".

He appeared unconcerned about the risks from sleeper cells, pockets of militants, and a resurgence of ISIS.

"Whoa, that's news. You're keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?"

Moreover, he argued that U.S. could return to Syria if there were to be a resurgence of IS.

"We'll come back if we have to". 'We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes.

If the SDF strikes a deal with Damascus following the U.S. withdrawal, Shoebridge said, "the Syrian government could fill that vacuum, and continue with their very successful campaign against ISIS themselves".

Trump did not meet any Iraqi officials during his three-hour long stay there.

This is not the first time the Iraqi government has expressed an unwillingness to host an estimated 5,200 American troops.

"We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq".

The BBC's Paul Adams says this poses a problem for the government in Baghdad and could complicate delicate negotiations over United States use of the Al Asad Airbase.

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