16:12 GMT03 August 2021
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    Iran’s envoy to Baghdad said that US strategy in the region is “the establishment of instability and crisis,” noting that the US only gets in the way of solving problems like Daesh. His comments come amid news the US is establishing new bases in western Iraq, even as it seeks to withdraw from Syria.

    Speaking to Iraqi university students and media activists on Friday, Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi said, "The strategic policy of the US is [based on] the establishment of instability and crisis in the region, and this is the reason that it creates obstacles in the way of any effort which will lead to [boosting] peace and calm in the region," PressTV reported.

    Masjedi noted that while Iran withdrew its forces from Iraq following Baghdad's declaration of victory over Daesh last December, "the US has still kept its forces in the region despite the elimination of Daesh, and instead of announcing the end of its military forces' mission, it is strengthening its bases and military barracks in some regions and establishing new positions."

    His remarks come amid news that the US is building new military bases in western Iraq, even as it begins to withdraw thousands of troops from eastern Syria.

    The US Army established two new bases in Iraq's Anbar province, which borders Syria's Deir Ez-Zor, where Daesh still exists as a shadow of its former self, almost without territory to control. The two bases, Sputnik reported, are in the northern Rumana sub-district of al-Qaim district and east of the city of al-Rutbah, respectively, both within 100 kilometers of the Syrian border.

    Iraqi political analyst and strategic expert Ahmed al-Sharifi told Sputnik Wednesday that "according to available data, [the] Americans are already expanding their base in Erbil. Part of the troops will be sent to the Ayn al-Asad Airbase, west of Anbar province between Baghdad and the Iraq-Syria border."

    US President Donald Trump paid a surprise visit to the Al-Asad Airbase, a US Air Force installation, earlier this week.

    Masjedi emphasized Friday that the region's countries were capable of protecting themselves without the help of foreign troops.

    That statement is reflected by current events in Syria, where the Syrian Arab Army entered the majority-Kurdish city of Manbij on Friday, following talks with senior Kurdish leaders about the imminent threat of a Turkish invasion of the region, Sputnik reported.

    ​"Considering the obligations of the army to respond to the call by the people of Manbij, the General Staff declares that the army has entered Manbij and raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic there," an SAA statement aired by Syrian state media said, further promising the SAA would "guarantee full security for all Syrian citizens and others" present in Manbij."

    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokeswoman Jihan Ahmed told Sputnik earlier that day that the Kurdish-led alliance supported the move.

    "We are in favour of the Syrian army's entry into Manbij to protect Syria, because if Turkey comes somewhere, it stays there", Ahmed said, stressing that the Kurds and the Syrian government were "one family."

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened earlier this month to invade the Kurdish areas of northern and eastern Syria in pursuit of Kurdish militias that Ankara considers to be terrorist organizations — but that are also Washington's primary allies in the war against Daesh. Despite this contradiction, Erdogan promised Turkish forces would attack nonetheless, doing their best to avoid killing US troops, Sputnik reported. It was in this context that Trump announced the surprise withdrawal of US troops in the next 60 to 100 days, essentially making a Turkish invasion imminent.

    Now, the Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) militias say they will turn eastward, to focus on the fight against Daesh east of the Euphrates River.

    Meanwhile, Iraq and Iran have grown closer, despite US attempts to drive a wedge between them with new sanctions against Tehran.

    Sputnik reported in September, in the wake of the first round of reimposed sanctions by the US against Iran, that numerous countries were flouting Washington's threats of punishment for trading in prohibited items with the southwest Asian country.

    Baghdad's adherence to Washington's wishes lasted barely a week, with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi saying on August 13 that "we have no other choice" but to shirk US sanctions on Iran.

    Iraq shares a 900-mile-long border with Iran, and it is heavily dependent on Iran for gas supplies, electricity, water and food. Daily trade in August hit a record $50 million, according to Asia Times, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim estimated their annual cross-border trade at $12 billion. In November, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Iraqi counterpart, Barham Salih, announced their intention to create a free trade zone between their countries, which Rouhani said he hoped would increase annual Iran-Iraq trade to $20 billion.


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    Syria, Iraq, Iran, US Army, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Syrian Arab Army, withdrawal, instability, US bases, new US base, regional cooperation
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