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Trump's Comments on Watching Iran from Iraq ‘Humiliating' for Baghdad

© REUTERS / Ammar AwadUS. army soldiers stand next a military vehicle in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq, December 27, 2016
US. army soldiers stand next a military vehicle in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq, December 27, 2016 - Sputnik International
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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.

Recently appearing on CBS program "Face the Nation," Trump told journalist Margaret Brennan that he wanted to have US servicemembers stay in Iraq because he wants to keep a watchful eye on Iran.

"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," Trump said, referring to US military bases in Iraq. "I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch."

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"We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up. And this is what a lot of people don't understand. We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do," he added.

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​"By making these statements, the United States and Trump are hurting US relations with Iraq and Iraqis," Marandi told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Monday. "He's humiliating the Iraqi government because they don't recognize the US presence as being a presence to monitor a neighbouring country, and they humiliate the Iraqi government in the eyes of Iraqis who do not want their country occupied by Americans."

"This only makes things worse… it's a foolish statement and it doesn't achieve anything and it also makes American troops vulnerable," he added, noting that US soldiers are "very unpopular" in the country.

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Speaking at a forum in Baghdad on Monday, Iraqi President Barham Salih stated that Trump's remarks were "strange," and that the US president had failed to discuss his intentions with Iraqi officials.

According to the Washington Post, Salih also stressed that the Iraqi constitution forbids the use of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighbouring countries. "Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues," he said.

Earlier this month, Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the most powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq, called for the withdrawal of US troops, citing the defeat of Daesh militants. Speaking with AP, Khazali suggested the troops could eventually be forced out if they fail to yield to the will of Iraqi citizens.

With newly surfaced reports suggesting that Iraqi politicians are undertaking initiatives to force the troop withdrawal, Marandi told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that it's uncertain what response Trump's remarks will generate, given the fractured status of the Iraqi government.

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"It's unclear where that is going to go because Americans are going to put pressure on Parliament to not take such steps," he said, before explaining that concessions might have to be made in order to appease all involved parties. "It's hard to say because the Iraqi government is very fragmented."

American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 to help tackle the Daesh terror group, which had taken control of a significant portion of the country. An estimated 5,200 American soldiers are stationed in Iraq.

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