Speaking to a news conference after his phone call with President Trump, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi insisted his nation is “keen to preserve its national interests,” and has no interest in taking part in any regional or international conflicts within the Middle East.
Exactly what Abadi meant by these comments isn’t totally clear, though it is seen as a likely nod to Iran after the White House said Trump was hyping the “threat” posed by Iran, which is both Iraq’s close neighbor and ally. Trump has been threatening Iran in recent weeks.
In this context, Abadi’s comments are likely meant as a reiteration of his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki’s pledge that Iraqi soil would not be used as a staging ground for the US to attack any of Iraq’s neighbors, particularly Iran. This was a major concern for Iran at the time, and might become so again, as the US is now clear about intending to keep troops in Iraq basically forever, and by extension is keeping troops next to Iran.
The Trump Administration has recently been playing up claims that Iran is “taking over” Iraq, a popular talking point among hawks which basically just means that they’re both on good terms because they’re both Shi’ite nations in a predominantly Sunni region.
Being more frank about not intending to participate in a US war against Iran, as Maliki had been, may have been seen as a risky proposition for Abadi, whose political position is more tenuous, and more dependent on US support.
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