US Forces in Iraq Have No Right to Monitor Iran - President Barham Salih

Published February 10th, 2019 - 12:37 GMT
US President Donald Trump greets members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. (AFP/ File Photo)
US President Donald Trump greets members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. (AFP/ File Photo)

After Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi had announced receiving a proposal for the reorganization of the presence of US forces in Iraq, his deputy Hassan al-Kaabi voiced his rejection of US President Donald Trump's comments on maintaining a military base in Iraq to monitor Iran.

Halbousi, in a statement he delivered before parliament, said he would “work in coordination with Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on reviewing the actual need for foreign forces in Iraq.”

Iraqi President Barham Salih, speaking on the sidelines of a forum held by Iraqi think tanks and intellectuals, said that American forces in his country have no right to monitor Iran and called on Washington to clarify the functions of its forces in Iraq.

Controversy has been on the rise within the Iraqi political echelons, preceded by the Iraqi public voicing concerns towards the mobilization of US forces in different parts of the country amidst government and parliamentary silence.

The Iraqi parliament is split over the presence of foreign forces with some strongly expressing rejection and calling for their immediate removal and others favoring compromise and maintaining American troops in the country.

Those arguing for a compromise called for reorganizing the current layout of US forces and cementing the sovereign right of the Iraqi government to determine whether or not it needed US assistance.

Iraq’s supreme Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, during a meeting with the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, reiterated that “Iraq aspires to have good relations with all neighboring countries and other peace-loving nations on the basis of common interests and without experiencing interference in its internal affairs or the undermining of its sovereignty and independence.”

“The debate about US presence in Iraq will bring us into a political crisis," warned political sciences professor at Baghdad University Dr. Khalid Abdul-Ilah.

“All the forces that now declare their rejection of the American and foreign presence in Iraq have agreed to the security pact signed back in 2008 under the government of Nouri al-Maliki,” Abdul-Ilah told Asharq Al-Awsat while adding that any removal of foreign forces needs to be approved and ratified by Iraqi authorities a year ahead of actual withdrawal.

Abdul-Ilah also made an argument that although some were demanding legislation for removing US forces, such a move would clash with the vision of national Sunnis and Kurds.

He also pointed out that “the US can return to Iraq via NATO-- during the last meeting the alliance held in Brussels, NATO underscored its significant role in training and equipping the Iraqi forces presenting an opening for a US comeback into Iraq even if legislation for their removal is issued, even though the chances of that happening remains unlikely.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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