In comments on Tuesday, Gen. Joseph Votel, the Commander of Central
Command, denied that there had been any change in the US military’s
focus in Iraq, and said that there was no focus on “watching Iran.“
This was in response to comments over the weekend by President Trump, who said US forces “might as well” stay in Iraq, and that he wanted to focus on watching Iran in case someone decides to “do nuclear weapons.”
Votel went on to say that ISIS in Iraq and Syria is near “total collapse,” but saying that he had not been consulted in any way before President Trump announced the Syria pullout. Votel gave the impression he opposes the pullout, as despite claims of ISIS’ defeat he predicted their resurgence within months of a pullout.
Downplaying the idea of staying in Iraq just to “watch Iran” likely is the result of how angry Iraqi government officials are about the idea, as they’ve insisted that they won’t allow Iraq to be a staging area for actions against a neighbor.
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