Trump Calls for Keeping Troops in Iraq to Watch Iran, Possibly Upending ISIS Fight – The New York Times
Meantime, several factions in the Iraqi Parliament plan to push a measure that would strictly limit the United States’ military activities in the country, including where American soldiers can circulate and how long they can stay.
The issue brings together Shiite parties who do not like Americans, most notably the one led by the radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr. That group now has the largest bloc of votes, with Shiite parties that have strong links to Iran and that are associated with armed groups known collectively as the Hashid.
While the measure is still in the planning stages, the parliamentary party representing Mr. al-Sadr announced about a week ago that it would put the issue on Parliament’s legislative agenda for March, and the party’s lawmakers have begun discussing the idea with other parliamentary blocs.
Joining with the Sadr faction is the Fateh coalition, whose members include political representatives of the mostly Shiite Muslim armed groups that sprang up when the Islamic State invaded northern Iraq in 2014. Some of these armed factions have close ties to Iran and initially were partially funded and supplied by Iran. Today, however, all the Iraqi armed groups are legal and paid by the Iraqi government, and say they have merged their command structure.
Mr. Trump’s comments in the CBS interview echoed his administration’s previous claims that Iran is cheating on the spirit of the 2015 nuclear agreement from which the United States has withdrawn, an assertion contradicted in an American intelligence assessment last week that concluded that Iran is not, for now, taking steps necessary to make a bomb.
In an apparent reference to Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq, which Mr. Trump visited during a whirlwind trip to the country in late December, the president said in the CBS interview that the United States has “an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq” that is “perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East.”
In fact, American forces operate from several Iraqi bases across the country, with most of the roughly 5,200 troops based at Al Asad or in Erbil in northern Iraq.