Al-Monitor – “One of the reasons I want to keep [US forces in Iraq] is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem,” said US President Donald Trump in an interview aired by CBS News Feb. 3.
Two days later, Trump’s Iranian counterpart responded with sarcasm. “So nice that the Americans expressed their heart,” said Hassan Rouhani during a speech addressing a cultural event in Tehran. “They want to watch Iran. Is there any logic behind that?” Rouhani also accused the US government of lying about the Afghan war, noting that the real intention behind it was to counter Russia, China and Iran.
Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman downplayed Trump’s comments. “One need not take his remarks very seriously, be it about the pullout from Syria or its presence somewhere,” Bahram Ghassemi told semi-official conservative Fars News. He pointed to “good neighborly ties” between Tehran and Baghdad as a reason Iraqis will not let their soil be used as an American base for anti-Iran purposes.
Meanwhile, Iranian news outlets have been busy covering the categorical rejection of Trump’s remarks by politicians from across Iraq’s political spectrum. A joint statement by the Iraqi Parliament’s Fatah and Sairoon factions was warmly received in Iran, as was the reaction by Iraqi President Barham Salih, who stated that Washington had not sought Baghdad’s permission to use it as a base for monitoring Iran.