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3 Feb, 2019 13:59

US wants to keep troops in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’ – Trump

US wants to keep troops in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’ – Trump

US President Donald Trump says he wants to keep a military presence in Iraq to “watch” Iran, as well as all over the “troubled Middle East.” He also confirmed the desire to retain an “intelligence” presence in Afghanistan.

“All I want to do is be able to watch,” Trump told CBS’ Face the Nation in an interview broadcast Sunday. “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.”

When asked if the troops were needed to “strike” Iran, Trump insisted that he merely wanted to watch.

“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.”

Aside from Iraq, Trump did not rule out the possibility of retaining a US military presence in Afghanistan. He also promised to leave “real intelligence” in the country, watching over “nests” – of terrorists, apparently – forming there.

“I’ll leave intelligence there and if I see nests forming, I’ll do something about it,” he rather cryptically said.

Criticism of years-long US military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq was one of the main centerpieces of Trump’s presidential campaign. Since then, however, he has backtracked on his promises, even bolstering the military presence in the region instead of withdrawing the troops.

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In Afghanistan, however, the expanded military presence did not do any good, as the security situation has continued to deteriorate over the past months. The embattled Afghani forces, supported by the US, have continued to sustain heavy casualties and lose more ground to their main opponent – the Taliban. The bleak military progress – or lack thereof – has apparently pushed the US to engage in talks with their adversaries. The Taliban has already stated that negotiations are “on the right path” and Trump appears to be “serious” about getting out of Afghanistan.

Last December, Trump ordered nearly half of the US troops in Afghanistan to be pulled out, as well as announcing a full withdrawal from Syria. The latter move, however, has received a set of preconditions since then.

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