Gates: Keep Troops in Iraq to Make Iran Uncomfortable

Insists Sadr's Opposition to US Occupation Because of Iranians

by Jason Ditz, May 24, 2011

Most of the attention this week has been at the AIPAC conference, but speaking today at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates struggled to lay out the reason(s) to keepĀ  troops in Iraq. Gates described it as “my last major policy speech.”

And among his flimsiest, as Gates’ entire argument for keeping the troops in Iraq was because it would make Iran uncomfortable. The comments came in the wake of an AEI “report” earlier in the day claiming Iran is a “serious threat” to Iran’s security.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has recently left the door open for keeping troops, but only if a “consensus” is reached on the matter. This would be impossible, however, because top Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc controls the Iraqi National Alliance, has repeatedly condemned the notion, demanding an end to the US occupation.

Gates shrugged off Sadr’s opposition, however, and insisted within the speech that he wasn’t sure how much opposition Sadr actually had and how much his comments stemmed from “Iranian backers.”

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