BAGHDAD — Iraq's president on Monday criticized Donald Trump for saying he wants to keep U.S. troops in Iraq "to watch Iran," saying the U.S. leader did not ask Iraq's permission to do so.
"We find these comments strange," said Barham Salih, speaking at a forum in Baghdad. Salih said U.S. troops were in Iraq as part of an agreement between the two countries and with a specific mission of assisting in the fight against the Islamic State group and combatting "terrorism." He said the Iraqi constitution forbids the use of Iraq as a base to threaten the interests or security of neighboring countries.
"Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues," he added.
Salih was responding to Trump's comments in an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation" during which Trump said the U.S. has an "incredible base" in Iraq that he intends to keep "because I want to be able to watch Iran."
"We spent a fortune on building this incredible base," Trump said. "We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem."
He said the U.S. base in Iraq is "perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East."