Top Shiite cleric al-Sistani rejects Trump’s plan for US troops in Iraq

Iraq’s most senior Shiite cleric on Wednesday joined a chorus of politicians and religious leaders in criticizing recent statements by President Donald Trump, in which he said US troops should stay in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said Iraq aspires to have “good and balanced relations” with all of its neighbors “based on mutual interests and without intervention in internal affairs.” Iraq “rejects being a launching pad for harming any other country,” he said during a meeting with UN Iraq envoy Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert at the cleric’s base in Najaf. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi reminded Trump late on Tuesday that there are no US bases in his country, and said he doesn’t accept the idea of Iraq becoming an arena for fighting a neighboring state, AP said.