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

Posted February 06, 2019

US President Donald Trump's recent remarks about US soldiers staying in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran was a "foolish statement", Mohammad Marandi, an expert on American studies and postcolonial literature who teaches at the University of Tehran, told Sputnik.

In an interview with CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, the president said he "would say they would win".

And if the threat becomes a full-blown resurgence again, the USA can always come back, he argued.

He added: "If there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do".

The top commander of United States forces in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, told a Senate committee on Tuesday that he was not asked for his advice about a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria before President Donald Trump announced his decision.

All I want to do is be able to watch.

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The report echoes what intelligence chiefs told lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week - that a vacuum left by the departure of US troops could be filled by ISIS or al Qaeda in Syria or Iraq.

Trump said on Thursday he would bring U.S. troops home if a peace deal was reached to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

The president also said he won't rule out another government shutdown or a national emergency if congressional Democrats refuse to negotiate on building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

The U.S. -led coalition fighting against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq Monday denied it faced a head-to-head encounter with the Iran-backed militia known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in the Nineveh province of Iraq.

Taking aim at Trump and the U.S., Salih added: "Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues".

The US "deep state" is firmly against withdrawal from Syria, Shoebridge noted.

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Retired U.S. Army Col. Chris Kolenda, who helped set up a back channel with the Taliban, told the Daily Beast in August 2018 that the terrorist group has also expressed a willingness to allow a small American military force to remain in Afghanistan post a significant withdrawal.

Trump announced in December that "all" US forces would be leaving Syria "now".

Senate Republicans seldom buck Trump on anything, but they have become increasingly agitated lately over his administration's foreign policy. "We can come back very quickly".

USA forces train and advise the group. The U.S. -led coalition told VOA then that the operation, which was coordinated with the Iraqi security forces occurred without incident. He said the Iraqi constitution forbids the use of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighboring countries.

"But having said that, our military mission on the ground remains on the reason that the government of Iraq and that is focusing on the defeat of ISIS and now preventing a resurgence of that particular organization", he said.

Despite Trump's order to withdraw, American officials maintain that the goal remains the "enduring defeat" of the Islamic State group and are moving ahead with a long-planned meeting of top diplomats from the 79-member USA -led anti-IS coalition this week.

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